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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Doctors urged to consider ADHD in preschoolers



ritalin.jpgThe American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its ADHD treatment guidelines, giving doctors a green light to prescribe drugs even to preschoolers if behavioral efforts fail. It should be noted, however that AAP urges parents and physicians to first try behavioral interventions, such as group or individual parent training. The panel said emerging evidence makes it possible to diagnose and manage ADHD in children from ages 4 to 18 (the previous AAP guidelines, from 2001, covered children ages 6 to 12).

I have to say, every single person I've known who's had a kid diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or any mental health issue that requires medication, knew something was up with the kid at a very early age. Some are saying this is dangerous, that it will invite an inappropriate glut of medication for preschoolers. But others say it actually helps to normalize this condition, avoid the stigma, because you treat it like you would any chronic disease and increase their chances of succeeding in school.

The new guidelines raise tough questions for parents. Some children have shown to greatly benefit from drug therapy. But many critics say Americans generally are too quick to embrace taking a pill as a fast solution, over discipline or lifestyle changes.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I know kids who have benefitted greatly and some who don't seem to rise to the level of medication. I do think some of the slams against medication are unfair. One doctor I know said for some kids it's like eyeglasses. You may be able to get along without your glasses, but it sure makes things easier when you can focus.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2011 1:05pm]


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