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Do the recommendations for ADHD treatment differ by age?

Yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines recommend treatments that differ, depending on the child’s age. For school-aged children (6-18 years of age) with ADHD, treatment can include ADHD medication or behavior therapy, with both medication and behavior therapy as the preferred treatment. Preschoolers (4-5 years of age) should receive behavior therapy first, before any medication. The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research has determined that parent behavior training is the behavior therapy approach that is most effective for preschoolers.

The AAP guidelines for ADHD do not make recommendations for children younger than age 4, because it is very challenging to accurately diagnose ADHD in younger children. However, children ages 2 and 3 do sometimes receive that diagnosis from their healthcare provider. Parent behavior training approaches for children with ADHD can be used with children younger than age 4.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.