Can ADD be diagnosed before a child enters school?
Yes, but it is often difficult. The reason is that some of the behaviors that are red flags or indicators of ADD can be normal in the preschool-age child. This means that interpretation of behavior and test results is complicated. Interestingly enough, however, experienced preschool teachers can be amazingly accurate in identifying the child with ADD. They have the advantages of making observations over time and being in a position to compare a given child’s behavior to that of his peer group. This makes it possible to identify the child with ADD whose behavior is consistently more extreme.
Early identification of ADD should be a goal for parents and teachers. This makes it possible to begin treatment before the child enters a destructive cycle of failure that can interfere with successful growth and development. Sometimes parents and teachers hesitate to identify and investigate an extreme behavior for fear of creating a problem where there really is not one. While this is an understandable concern, over the years I have learned that parents know their kids better than anyone (and teachers aren’t far behind). Their difficulty, more commonly, is being honest about what they see and holding back, as opposed to inaccurately observing and jumping the gun.
Therefore, my advice to parents and teachers is: “If you think there is a problem, then there is.”
It may not necessarily be ADD, but something is out of sync. All developmental, learning, and behavioral concerns in children deserve some type of comprehensive assessment. The “worst thing” that can happen by taking the step to investigate a concern is that parents and teachers can be reassured that they are handling things in the right way!
And even more importantly, when we evaluate a problem, identify the factors–including ADD–that are contributing to the problem, and implement a specific treatment plan, we are likely to prevent the development of more significant problem.
How can you be sure your ADD/ADHD diagnosis is accurate? One sure-fire way is to book a Discovery Session with Dr. Liden at The Being Well Center! Another great way is to download Dr. Liden’s book, ADD Basics 101, currently offered as a free ebook.
Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.