Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ADHD guidelines add Ritalin as option for 4-year-olds

Four-year-olds showing debilitating signs of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder should be evaluated by doctors, revised guidelines say.

Previously, recommendations and diagnosing and managing ADHD started with children aged six to 12. Since 2001, emerging evidence pointed to expanding the age range to include preschool-aged children and adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics said.

The revised guidelines suggest doctors first prescribe behaviour therapy for preschoolers, and that methylphenidate or Ritalin may be prescribed if that does not significantly improve “and there is moderate-to-severe continuing disturbance in the child’s function,” the group’s 14-member committee said.

Behaviour therapy includes training parents and teachers on techniques to help children manage their anger, such as using positive reinforcement and punishing when a child fails to meet goals.
A student at the Center for Attention and Related Disorders camp in New Fairfield, Conn. that provides structure for for children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity. New guidelines say the diagnosis should be considered in children as young as four.A student at the Center for Attention and Related Disorders camp in New Fairfield, Conn. that provides structure for for children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity. New guidelines say the diagnosis should be considered in children as young as four. Brendan Smialowski/Getty

Treating children at a young age is important because identifying them earlier and offering treatment increases their chances of succeeding in school, said Dr. Mark Wolraich, the lead author of the report in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in children, occurring in about eight percent of children and youth, according to the report. (Maybe that's because children are meant to be children, to run around and play, instead of sitting like obedient robots in classrooms?) more