Children do not suddenly develop ADHD when they enter school, even though that is the time ADHD is most often diagnosed. One of the concerns with diagnosing ADHD in preschoolers is the symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impusiveness are also characteristics of preschool children. But children with ADHD frequently carry these behaviors to the extreme. Children as young as three years old can be properly and accurately diagnosed for ADHD by a pediatric specialist.
According to the Preschool ADHD Treatment Study (PATS), sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, children later diagnosed with severe ADHD had a history of being asked to leave day care centers and being rejected by peers. PATS also provided a treatment plan for children between the ages of three and five in the study. This treatment plan can be used as a guide for parents and doctors treating children in this age range:
1) Parent Training Parents in the study were given a ten week parent training course in behavior modification techniques. More than one third of the children in the study had improved behaviors with parent training alone and did not use any medication.
2) Medication For the children that did not improve with parent training, low doses of methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) were given. This significantly reduced symptoms of ADHD. The study's findings showed that low doses of medication were more effective in preschool children. Approximately 10% of the children needed to discontinue medication because of intolerance to side effects.
For more information on ADHD in Preschoolers: