ADHD in Children Q&A by Dr. Phillips
ADHD is an ongoing behavior disorder typically diagnosed at age five or six, though the symptoms have usually been observed much earlier than this age. The three key symptoms are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. These symptoms typically interfere with the child's functioning in social and academic settings. The diagnostic criteria were outlined in 1994 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric Association). To meet the diagnostic criteria, these symptoms, exemplified below, must have been present for at least six months.
ADHD symptom - inattention
ADHD symptom - hyperactivity
ADHD symptom - impulsivity
One can see why there is an age limitation on these behaviors being defined as "abnormal," as the majority of them are typical of much younger children. But in the non-ADHD child, these behaviors are typically outgrown. And, of course, there are a variety of other conditions in which these symptoms occur but are not ADHD. Your doctor must carry out a very detailed evaluation before the diagnosis of ADHD is made. But please don't delay! If you or your child's teachers suspect ADHD, begin the evaluation as soon as possible. The early recognition and treatment of ADHD is critical in your child's long-term success.
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Last Editorial Review: 12/16/2008