As a teacher, I have always been under the impression or had the idea that ADD couldn't really be diagnosed until grade 2. (I am not dealing with ADHD in this question).

I was wondering if it can actually be diagnosed younger to the benefit of the child. As well, if it can be, how do you find the appropriate doctor to do the test?

  • At young ages (actually, at any age), it's not a simple doctor diagnosis. It requires observation from several parties...one being the teachers. Since Kindergarten, and to an extent, first grade still tend to be very active, hands-on learning environments, the symptoms of attention problems aren't always easy to spot in the school until the later grades where concentration/focus becomes more of a requirement.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:57
  • 1
    @DA01 Shouldn't that be an answer?
    – deworde
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 9:02
  • My son is 6 and got diagnosed last year. His kindergarten teacher said he was unable to focus and was fidgety and constantly touching people and things. He has always been a space cadet and would barely listen to me unless I shouted his name about 10 times. I think that he was diagnosed a little too late. I wish I would've gotten help while he was in kindergarten so that I wouldn't have to hold him back this year.
    – jlg
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 19:29
  • Something important to remember is there are other behavioral/emotional/developmental issues that can result in behaviors associated with ADD/ADHD. Of particular note are anxiety-related behaviors and symptoms resulting from a child experiencing an instance of or ongoing trauma.
    – Pete
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


Our youngest was "diagnosed" ADD. Turns out he just has a different learning style and is a little boy whose soul needs motion to be happy. So we pulled him from school and he crushes everything he does. That is as long as he can bounce and be upside-down. He does most of his math in his head while bouncing on a trampoline.

Point: Be very careful about the all-too-quick diagnosis of ADD. What's just starting to really spill out of research is diet is the cause for so much mis-diagnosis. Especially sugar. Second is the starving the brain of the nutrients derived from healthy fats.

I was "diagnosed" ADHD in highschool. They wanted me to go on Ritalin. My parents (thank you!) said no. I was just creative, full of energy, and jacked up on sugar/carbs. Eating a diet high in healthy-fat and low in carbs eliminated my concentration issues.

Before you head off to a doctor you might want to buy a cheap blood glucose monitor and get 30 days of data points to see if there's any correlation to the symptoms of the ADD/ADHD and the blood glucose. When my blood glucose is over 100 I'm a total spaz and can't think straight. I keep my average at 85 which is my sweet-spot for energy and focus. Same for our youngest. Genes. Go figure.

Oh yeah - research what a little caffeine (tea, premium coffee) can do for kids with ADD/ADHD. A KerryGold and caffeine in the morning can be 10x more effective than medication. The fears of giving kids caffeine are myth. Tons of research on it now.

  • 1
    Can you point to any of this research? I'd be interested in reading it. The research I've found has no correlation between sugar and behavior: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1435/… The correlation you're describing between blood glucose level and 'spazzing' sounds like a different approach than what was taken in that study; are there other explanations?
    – mmr
    Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 13:55
  • There's a bunch of research here. Not all great...but leads you down the rabbithole. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com All that being said I'm not trying to say that there aren't real cases that require prescription treatment. Just that there can be lots of factors and ways to mitigate outside of pills. Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 15:39

There's a push towards diagnosing children earlier, but medication can be problematic so the recommendation is usually to start with parent training and behavior modification programs.

ADHD among preschoolers

CHADD is an advocacy group for ADHD and they provide a page with resources for finding a doctor. (Their website provides a lot of general info as well). It would not hurt to start with your pediatrician but I think a specialist will be able to provide the best care.

Can you help me find a doctor or mental health professional?


According to the most recent DSM guide used to assist physicians with diagnosis, ADD is no longer the correct term for the disorder; it is now considered to be a subtype of ADHD. So what the OP addresses is in fact ADHD.

All afflicted individuals share a core set of just a few of the known symptoms. The presence of the other ancillary symptoms vary in combination and intensity per individual.

It is my understanding that the current medical school curriculum contains almost no training on ADHD. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to find a medical professional possessing the requisite competence for effectively diagnosing/treating it.

All that said, a person's best bet for finding a good doctor is to find a local ADHD support group and ask around. The goal is to get advice from someone who has already gone through the long & difficult process of finding a doctor they can trust. Doing this will likely save the interested party years of suffering with the symptoms as finding the correct medication and dosage is a long process of trial and error.

Do NOT dismiss the importance of medication as part of the necessary treatment plan. Medication does work, but also needs to be supplemented with therapy/coaching if at all possible.

If you're a parent, Don't deny your child the benefits of medication simply b/c you're unsure. They'll grow up to hate you for it; I know I did.

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