Medicating Preschoolers?

By: Leonard Horton
By: Leonard Horton

Dr. Mimi Graham with FSU's Institute for Early Intervention Policy says preschoolers are often misdiagnosed with having certain mental problems.

"Particularly for pre-verbal kids, they are not able to tell us that they are sad or hurting inside, so we have to look beneath the exhibiting behavior and see what this kid is trying to tell us," says Graham.

FSU professor Carlos Bolanos has done extensive research on psychotrophic drugs and their effects.

"I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere there are kids being medicated, even with small doses of antidepressants. I wouldn't be surprised," says Bolanos.

"I would think that medication would be a last resort. I don't know of anyone in the country that is considering medicating kids under five for mental health issues," adds Graham.

The Center for Health and Health Care in schools reports an estimated four million children, ages 3-17, have been identified as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

"The more these kids are diagnosed, the more the need is for us to know how we are going to deal with that problem. Medication may have to be part of some kind of therapy for these kids," adds Bolanos.

Graham says the first years of life provide the basis for children's mental health and that many perceived problems can be solved by more positive parental interaction as children "mirror" the mood their parents give off.

Graham also says giving children a sense is structure and a good diet also helps prevent children from acting out.


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