ADHD Testing for 4 Year Old.

Updated on August 16, 2012
O.L. asks from Long Beach, CA
10 answers

Is a 4 year old too young to be tested for ADHD? Does anyone have experience with their child being tested? If so, can you share how it works with me? Did you hire a child psychologist or some other professional?


What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

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!

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

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.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

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.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

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.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

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



answers from Kalamazoo on

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.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son has ADHD. He was tested in second grade. I think 4 years old is far too young. Our pediatrician tested him. They give you a really long form with LOTS of questions where you rate your child in different areas on a scale. We were given several of them. We, the parents, filled it out. The school psychologist (a joke in our district) filled it out based upon several interviews. The teacher filled it out based upon her experience in class with him. All forms were turned in and evaluated. He rated very high on the scale. I think you should wait. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

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..



answers from Washington DC on

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.



answers from Chicago on

Dr Ames defined the 4 year old as wild and wonderful, she also said thy are constant motion.