Do You Think Toddlers Can Be Diagnosed with ADHD?

Is it Immaturity or ADHD?

On Slate web site they posted an article by Brian Palmer, How to Diagnose a Toddler with ADHD. The article discusses new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics urging parents and doctors to lookout for signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children as young as four-years old. Previous guidelines set the minimum age at six.

The author explains, “ADHD diagnostic methods are notoriously controversial for children of any age. Doctors have to rely on reports from parents with no experience recognizing symptoms, and the impressions of various teachers. (Few children exhibit ADHD symptoms in a doctor’s office.) There are several different questionnaires and scoring scales that require mothers and fathers to speculate on how often their child talks too much: Never, sometimes, often, or very often. Doctors in the United States and abroad can’t even agree on a single definition of the disease.”

The article poses the question: Don’t all little kids have short attention spans?  Preschoolers aren’t particularly focused in general—so how could you tell if one had ADHD? What do you think?

Click here to see the entire article.


  1. I have no doubt that one of the kids I care for has ADHD but no one diagnosed it yet. He is smart but can't sit still, forgets everything. They say it's lack of maturity. I think they aren't telling me the truth don't want me to gossip and tell other people.

  2. I wonder, of all these kids that are being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, what are their diets like? Are they eating alot of processed foods with dyes in them or alot of sugar? Behavioral problems in small children are most often linked to diet issues and food allergies. Maybe if some of these parents didn't give their children sugary cereal for breakfast or skipped the jelly with INSANE amounts of sugar in it, they wouldn't have a child with a "behavior problem".

  3. Besides the diet, which is a very valid point, I would be curious to know what daily routine and home life is like. What are parents doing to really set limits, boundaries, etc.? How much time are they spending with their kids to model ideal behavior? How much are children acting up just to get attention in the first place? I am not saying ADD and ADHD etc. don't exist but the idea of labelling and or medicating can get crazy. Then you have helicopter parents who want to swoop in and solve a problem that wasn't really there, they were just reading too many books. Case in point I have a mom who raised ten kids, did a lot of volunteer work with other kids, and was a nurse. One summer she watches one of her grandchildren, whose mother was a special education teacher. Grandchild is on medication for ADD. My mother said there were times she forgot to give kid dose, and she said, "but I didn't notice a difference in behavior before she started or when she was on it. She was just a child." And yes my mom because of being a nurse did understand that there are special needs children, she just wasn't seeing "the proof." My mom has a low tolerance for bad behavior too. So I think if she thought it was there, she wouldn't have been making her comments.

  4. It isn't food coloring or sugar that creates a chemical biological reaction in a child. If the kids needs medication it's not only due to diet. People blame everything and diet helps everyone. I have heard to eliminate wheat, eggs, milk and other dairy foods, chocolate, soybeans/tofu, corn products, and syrup. Really?

  5. There are borderline cases and we shouldn't medicate borderline kids until other options like diet and behavior are modified. However, in the more extreme cases the condition is pretty obvious to professionals and can be diagnosed even before age 3. My oldest nephew is a case in point: his preschool teachers suggested my sister-in-law consult a professional when he could not sit down for snacks, lunch, or activities. While the other children enjoyed stories at circle time, he ran around the room kicking things over. And no, my brother and sister-in-law were not permissive parents who did not discipline at home. Not all cases will be obvious or severe (thankfully) but they do exist and do require medication. In these cases the life of the child can be greatly improved.

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