Is Preschool Too Early to Diagnose ADHD?
ADHD is traditionally diagnosed after age 6. But if your preschool student is abnormally hyperactive or impulsive, new evidence suggests your child may merit evaluation and treatment for ADD even younger.
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3 Comments: Is Preschool Too Early to Diagnose ADHD?
My son, who just turned 5, has entered a Pre-K program. It is the beginning of his second year with this pre-school. Last year the director requested that we have the local school system evaluate/ screen him. They were having trouble with him at circle time, being too physical with kids or not respecting their space, and not following instructions. They had an additional concern that he was ‘not registering’- they were not sure if he understood them when they voiced their concern about his behavior, or the gravity of it. Fast forward several months and we took him for a screening. It was just him in a classroom with a special ed teacher. He was an angel of course and did not exhibit any signs of deficit in all areas using this particular screening method. Off for the summer in a montersorri camp and he did fine, a few similar comments from the teachers. I think because they were playing all day mostly outside he was fine. It is fall and he is back in his pre-school and trouble is brewing. We have spent many months talking with the local school system for additional screenings and for a in-classroom observation. We have an appointment in November. I fear it will be a year before any action is taking. At home we have a difficult time getting him out the door in the morning. Each task takes 3-4 reminders and extracting him from toys. We have tried incentives to yelling. It is exhausting. I don’t need a definitive diagnosis I need solid tools – a framework to help him and in turn help all of us. Parent resources please!! And resources we can pass along to the school because I fear he may be kicked out anytime.
Cristina, I would suggest talking with your son’s pediatrician rather than just waiting on the school evaluation. If his regular pediatrician isn’t experienced in ADHD, see if he/she can give you a referral to one who is. Having a medical diagnosis in hand, and the legal protections that go with it, should help you a lot in dealing with his pre-school and the elementary school he’ll be attending later.
My son, now 12, was diagnosed at the age of 3 1/2 but it took me continually voicing my concerns to get that diagnosis. I knew when he was 2 that his tantrums, inattention, and difficulty staying still/waiting his turn were more than those of the average “terrible twos.” (I have nieces/nephews with ADHD and had seen similar behaviors in them at the pre-school age.) Finally, at the age of 3, the owner of the private school/day care he attended told me that since I had so consistently voiced my concerns, and his teachers had started voicing concerns as well, she would complete the paperwork needed to show his behaviors in the school setting. I then took that paperwork, and the one evaluating the behaviors at home, to my son’s regular pediatrician. He wasn’t qualified to make a diagnosis given my son’s age, but he referred me to a developmental pediatrician who did – ADHD, Combined Type. You may also try getting an appointment with a counselor who specializes in dealing with young children. They may or may not be able to give you a diagnosis, but they can help you and your son learn ways to improve his behavior. I took my son to one right after he was diagnosed, and she did wonders to help him learn to handle his temper as well as help me to better understand the causes of his behaviors and ways to help him improve them.
Life hasn’t been easy dealing with my son’s ADHD, but I shudder at thinking how much more difficult it would have been had I not been able to get that diagnosis and the protections/assistance that come with it. My son still struggles with keeping organized, remembering to do and turn in homework, handling the frustration of not always getting what he wants, etc. However, he has also managed to make friends, do well in school and even earn the Presidential Academic Fitness Award when graduating from 6th grade last year. I don’t say this to brag, but to give you hope that your son can also excel in school and life. Just keep advocating for him and don’t let others tell you that your instincts are wrong – and don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.
Thank you so much for your suggestions and inspiration. I believe his pediatrician and the school system have disregarded us because his symptoms are mild. However his preschool remains challenged with him. I can see how this would be tricky because he does present as just an really active boy. I recently spoke with a friend whose two sons are enrolled in the integrated preschool system and were able to navigate it smoothly she believe because they had an IEP from early intervention. Another friend gave me the name of a recommended child therapist. I agree with you, I cannot wait for help from the school system. It has been recommended that I begin to gather documentation to present to the school system. Thank you again for your response!