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Is Preschool Right for the ADHD Child

Preschools and Kindergartens

Is preschool right for the ADHD child? The answer to this question is both yes and no. The reason for this ambiguity is that ADHD is almost impossible to diagnose at the preschool age, and is often even difficult to diagnose in older children.

Is Preschool Right for the ADHD Child?

Short attention spans and hyperactivity are normal traits of children from three to five years old. These children are also immature and can develop at different rates.

Things that set some children apart who may possibly have ADHD include:

  • The inability to focus on an activity for any length of time, even on pleasurable ones,
  • Aggressive behavior,
  • Refusing to participate, and
  • Not respecting other children's property or boundaries.

Children who exhibit these extreme behaviors are typically avoided and shunned by other children.

If a child has ADHD, preschool teachers may be able to determine that the child is exhibiting behaviors that do not fall into the range of normal behaviors for his age group. This can be a good sign that something is wrong and that attention is needed.

Diagnosis of ADHD is not made by a doctor or psychiatrist alone. Things involved in a diagnosis of the ADHD child include a thorough medical and developmental history, observations of the child at home, reports from teachers, and feedback from any other health professionals who know the child. There may also be neuropsychological testing to rule out other disorders or conditions. The advice of a teacher, therefore, can help parents catch ADHD early and help the child to begin treatment.

The first treatment for the ADHD child is usually behavior therapy for him or her and their family. Many children are helped tremendously by this and avoid drug treatment. In fact, some ADHD treatment studies have shown that behavioral interventions are extremely effective for preschool age children. A preschool, if it is equipped to handle behavioral therapy, can thus be an invaluable resource in helping kids to learn what is and is not acceptable behavior.

As with any disease or disorder, not all children will be affected by the disorder in the same way. If the symptoms of the ADHD child are not severe, he or she may be able to do well in a preschool setting. In a small classroom with a strong routine and not too much extra stimulation, the ADHD child may be fine and symptoms may improve. However, if the symptoms become problematic, he or she may need additional help that preschool can't give, and it is recommended you contact your pediatrician or other professional for advice.

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