The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed the diagnosable age range of children struggling with ADHD from 6-12 to 4-18 years old. The changes reflect ongoing research that suggests symptoms of ADHD are evident at a much earlier age than previously thought and continue into the adolescent years. Although it is fairly common for teens to be diagnosed and treated for ADHD, it is far less so for preschoolers. As a result, children as young as 4 can now be evaluated by their primary care physician and, if deemed necessary, prescribed stimulant medication.
James Smithers, President of Polaris Counseling says,”There is no doubt that ADHD is here, and it is real diagnosable condition for a lot of children. However, ADHD has been grossly over-diagnosed over the last decade and is often the result of reckless evaluation and assessment on the part of some physicians and mental health professionals who find it easier to slap a label on a child before looking at the whole picture. Any responsible clinician must take great care in the assessment of a preschooler, taking into account the family dynamic, birth order, parenting strategies, diet etc. before giving a diagnosis of ADHD. If, after a thorough evaluation, a diagnosis of ADHD is warranted then behavioral interventions need to be implemented and exhausted before stimulant medications should even be considered.”