What does ADHD look like in a pre-schooler?

Research shows that is it possible to identify Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at pre-school age.  

But how?  We all know that pre-schoolers may have difficulty paying attention, following instruction or direction and waiting their turn.  So how can I tell if my pre-schooler has ADHD?  

Oddly enough children with ADHD are more likely to be suspended from school or day care because of their disruptive behaviour in class and on the playground.  

Children with ADHD have extreme challenges when it comes to learning new concepts at school, with impulsive behaviour, discipline and many other aspects of daily living.  Some of the most common warning signs include but are not limited to:

  • Jumping from activity to a activity without finishing the previous one;
  • Continues fighting with random items;
  • Running around when they should be sitting and concentrating on something (age appropriately);
  • Forgetfulness is a huge tell-tale sign of ADHD – children tend to leave belongings and forget where they are, they will leave items at home etc;
  • Social awkwardness can also be a tell-tale sign – when the child struggles to fit into groups with children they own age;
  • Emotional outburst or fits off aggression for no apparent reason;
  • Immature behaviour
  • Struggles with “attention to detail” and will make careless mistakes;
  • Child will not listen to instruction or take instruction.  It almost appears as if the child is not listing when being spoken to;
  • Easily distracted and often forgetful in general daily activities;
  • Struggles with quite time activities and talks excessively;
  • Does not wait for turn will blurt out answers even before questions have been asked or completed.
  • Constantly interrupts others without even realising the they are doing it.

If you suspect your pre-schooler has ADHD, you will want to talk to a medical professional who is trained to diagnose ADHD such as your child’s paediatrician, a child psychiatrist psychologist, clinical social worker or neurodevelopment paediatrician.  

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.