Why Age Is Crucial in ADHD Diagnosis

Within any given classroom, there is an age range of students that spans almost a year, and a year can make a big difference in a child’s ability to self-regulate. That’s why it’s important when teaching kids with ADHD and when considering a child’s behavior, to compare it to other children the same age — not to the range of kids in his class or grade.

Two studies in the last few years concluded that kids who are youngest in their class are disproportionately diagnosed with ADHD. A Michigan study found that kindergarteners who are the youngest in their grade are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than the oldest in their grade. And it doesn’t affect just kindergarteners: a North Carolina study found that in fifth and eighth grade, the youngest children were almost twice as likely as the oldest to be prescribed medication for ADHD.