August 16, 2012,
O.L. asks from Long Beach, CA on August 15, 2012
M.N. answers from Los Angeles on August 16, 2012
Most decent physicians or psychologists will not diagnose a child with ADHD until the age of 5 or 6. I'd be wary of a diagnosis at 4. And a school psychologist is probably best. You're in California - any of that special needs testing is free. Just call Long Beach Unified and they will tell you who to call. My son is 3 and I just went through a slew of special needs testing for autism - the system is set up great for free services for us so take advantage of it!
T.S. answers from Washington DC on August 15, 2012
As others have mentioned there isn't a "test" for ADHD, but there is diagnostic criteria. A psychologist will use a number of tools to determine whether or not your child meets those criteria.
As pps have noted, short attention spans, and high levels of activity are NORMAL and TYPICAL in 4 year olds. The question is whether your child's traits fall OUTSIDE of that normal range of behaviors, and whether those atypical behaviors are a hindrance to his/her functioning.
My son was diagnosed at about 4 1/2 after he was asked to leave his school where he was academically the highest kid in his advanced class, but could NOT, even when he wanted to, be still or quiet for ANY portion of the class. Even his best little friend, who he'd known all his life would say "I like you, DS, but you make me so tired."
If you're concerned, start with the pediatrician. Ours (as it turned out) had been noting signs of "possibly hyperactivity" since he was about 2. If they see what you see, they'll refer you to the next step (probably a psychologist). The process will probably involve the psych doing some observation of your child, and an interview with you and the child. Then if it is warranted, they'll send home some behavior rating scales to be filled out by you and teachers or other people who know your child. Then they evaluate your responses against normal or typical children your child's age and make a diagnosis. Then you think about what treatment plans you're willing to try.
Sorry this is so long.
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M.J. answers from Sacramento on August 15, 2012
The previous poster is right ... the AAP approved diagnosing ADHD in children as young as four. That doesn't mean doctors are going to go crazy diagnosing it, but in cases where it's really obvious, kids will finally get the help they need.
We started pursuing medical help with our son when he was three. I talked to the pediatrician at Kaiser first for ideas on what we could do, but he knew right away our case was severe. He referred us to a child psychologist, who offered suggestions for ways to correct the problems. Nothing worked, so he referred us to a behavioral therapist. Same thing, nothing worked.
By four, our son was kicked out of preschool and off the charts with behavior problems. We tried it all. We finally got the golden ticket with the child psychiatrist (who can diagnose). She said he had "strong indicators" of ADHD and recommended medication because he was a danger to others and we'd exhausted all other strategies. Medication is what completely transformed everything. At nine, our son is doing well in school and blends in with the other kids most of the time.
It was a long process to get a diagnosis. You have to be persistent and get the doctors to listen to you when it's a young child.
You will most likely need a referral to get in with a specialist. You'll want to see a child psychiatrist or neuropsychologist for an accurate diagnosis. Pediatricians aren't qualified.
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☆.H. answers from San Francisco on August 15, 2012
Last fall the american academy of pediatrics expanded their diagnostic criteria to include children as young as 4.
My personal experience was that many psychologists/psychiatrists are not yet comfortable diagnosing and treating children who are below the previous age minimum of 7. You have to call around.
Many people start with their child's pediatrician. Our (previous) pedi was completely useless on this particular front.
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J.G. answers from Chicago on August 15, 2012
Dr Ames defined the 4 year old as wild and wonderful, she also said thy are constant motion.
L.O. answers from Detroit on August 15, 2012
there is no test for adhd. there are questionnaires.. for the parent and the teacher to complete. the dr goes by the answers to the questions.
all 4 year olds are active..most have short attention spans.
I thought my 5year old son was adhd.. then I spent time in a kindergarten classroom.. and saw taht all of the kids are hyper and bouncy..
P.A. answers from Los Angeles on August 16, 2012
I think your best bet if you are concerned is to find developmental pediatrician, express your concerns (not in front of the child) and go from there. Regular pediatricians are not fully equipped to give you an adequate diagnosis as there could be other or different issues.
P. Amic CEO/Clinical Director
Special Beginnings, Inc.
An Early Intervention Network
A.V. answers from Washington DC on August 15, 2012
Does your child snore? I ask because my friend's DD snored...and people thought she had ADHD. After getting huge tonsils out and being treated for allergic asthma, she's a totally different kid. I would frankly start with the pediatrician to discuss that first before ADHD testing. Maybe your child needs a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea.
J.K. answers from Kalamazoo on August 15, 2012
Dont all 4 year olds have ADD? I would guess you can get them tested at any age, but I would personally recommend trying counseling before pharmaceuticals.