The Age to Test for ADHD

Question: I have heard mixed opinions about whether you can or cannot test young children age 2 to 4 for ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactive disorder). Do you have any information? -- Need to Know

Answer: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children as young as 4 can be tested for ADHD. However, few children are diagnosed with this disorder before elementary school, as it is difficult to get a diagnosis before children are 5. Nevertheless, an early diagnosis can improve ADHD symptoms in preschoolers who receive behavioral therapy and/or low doses of medication. It also helps for parents to enroll themselves in a support group.

Keep in mind that many of the symptoms of ADHD are seen in young children. It is normal for preschoolers to have a high level of activity, an inability to focus for long periods of time and impulsivity. However, young children with ADHD are far more hyper and impulsive. They are on the go almost all the time and are not likely to take naps or sit still for meals or other activities.

When parents suspect that their children have ADHD, the solution is to get a diagnosis from a doctor. It is possible that the child's behavior is due to some other problem, such as vision, hearing or fine-motor difficulties. All of these problems can make it hard for a child to behave. To make a diagnosis, the doctor will need a detailed description of a child's behavior from his or her parents as well as others who play an important role in the child's life.