Preschool Behavior Can Help Predict ADHD

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October is ADHD awareness month, a time set aside to help the public focus on this common mental disorder. Children with ADHD often show signs and symptoms early in life, but many do not get diagnosed until they start school. But a new study suggests parents can get a heads up on whether their child may develop ADHD as early as their preschool years if they work with their child’s teacher and a mental health therapist who specializes in child psychiatry.

The research was done by Sarah O’Neill, Ph.D, and was published in an article in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. The study explores how well parents, teachers and psychiatrists’ ratings of preschoolers’ behavior are able to predict the diagnosis and severity of ADHD at age six. O’Neill and her colleagues followed a group of 104 hyperactive three-and-four-year-olds for two years. Almost half of them were diagnosed by age six, and the likelihood of proper diagnosis increased when all three informants monitored them and worked together.

Preschoolers may initially have difficulty adjusting to the structured setting of a classroom, leading teachers to believe they are difficult. It is important that teachers, parents and clinicians work together and compare their observations.

For more information, contact Dr. Tucker, a Costa Mesa psychiatrist.