Immaturity or ADHD?
If you have a rambunctious, emotionally sensitive, or imaginative child you may have asked yourself this at some point if your child is immature or if there is something else going on.
As parents, we look to our child's peers as a measurement of development and maturity. And any signs of lagging, rejection or wild energy conjures up one of our greatest fears: ADHD.
Get the Facts
Before you rush to judgement, let's take a moment to ask a few questions.
Is your child younger than his/her peers? A matter of months can make a significant difference in child development and maturity.
Is your child an only child? Children that frequently play alone do not always display the same social skills at a young age as a child with siblings.
Is your child getting enough exercise, sleep and proper nutrition? All of these factors will contribute to how a child behaves and interacts with other children.
While an immature child might squirm more, talk more and show less self-management than his or her same-age peers, a child with ADHD will show a greater intensity of sustained immaturity impacting their daily life.
Is My Child too Young to Be Diagnosed with ADHD?
Assuming you have ruled out the questions listed above and still have concerns, it may be time to consider speaking with a specialist. Although most children are not diagnosed with ADHD until their grade school years (when the signs and symptoms are more prevalent), children as early as two to three years of age can show significant signs.
Other things to consider are Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and anxiety. The signs and symptoms are similar and could be co-existing conditions or stand-alone conditions.
When selecting a specialist, ensure they have adequate experience with ADHD and common co-occuring conditions. Especially at a young age, it is important to properly rule out immaturity, depression, anxiety or even childhood trauma. If a rush to judgement results in a misdiagnosis it could have a significant impact on treatment.
While ADHD is in itself an immaturity of brain development—and children with ADHD often appear less mature than their same-age peers—a thorough evaluation of a child over an extended period of time and in multiple situations is relevant for a proper diagnosis.
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