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Too Young for an ADHD Evaluation?
Q: My three-year-old was kicked out of preschool. I was told that his doctor should evaluate him for ADHD. I think that he is just too young. What do you think?
A: You're right to be cautious about evaluating someone that young for ADHD, but part of the criteria for diagnosis is that the behaviors appeared before the age of six. That said, it must be acknowledged that there is a wide range of behaviors that are perfectly normal for a three-year-old boy that might look like ADHD to the untutored eye. If you do decide to go for an evaluation, make sure that you choose someone who has a good understanding of normal development in young children, particularly young boys. Another caution is that many of the medications that are prescribed for older children have never been approved for children under the age of six.
You might want to consider a behavior modification approach to the problems your son is exhibiting in school. A good resource for evaluators as well as support programs can be found through the advocacy group, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD). CHADD has many branches throughout the country. Try accessing their website (http://www.chadd.org) to see if there is a branch near you where you can talk with other parents who have similar experiences to yours.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.