Although problems with ADHD can continue into adulthood, the condition often begins in the early years.
Although problems with ADHD can continue into adulthood, the condition often begins in the early years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 12 percent of Virginia’s children had been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, with more than 6 percent of the kids on medication to help control their symptoms.
Often starting around elementary school or even preschool, some kids may find that they struggle to complete tasks in school. They may also find themselves fidgeting more than usual and getting into trouble with teachers and caregivers. Children as young as 4 years old can be diagnosed with ADHD, according to the nonprofit Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Still, Beers says that it’s crucial for doctors to know if the behavioral issues being reported are cropping up in more than one environment.
“For diagnosis, it’s really important to note that not only do children have these symptoms, but that they are causing problems with functioning and that those problems are seen in more than one setting—that might mean both at school and at home,” she says.
“If you’re only really seeing it in one setting, it really makes you think long and hard about whether that’s an accurate diagnosis.”
Studies suggest that the most effective treatment for the condition, which is characterized by difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, is likely to be a combination of therapy and medication, though Beers notes that any decision to prescribe a child drugs needs to be one shared by the family and doctor.
Therapy can help children learn “to stay focused, how to redirect themselves, how to avoid situations where they might get super inattentive or super hyperactive,” she says.
Beers adds that there’s been increasing attention in recent years paid to the importance of sleep in helping children to manage their symptoms associated with ADHD.