The symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in toddlers include being accident prone, very impulsive, excessively talkative and very easily distracted. Toddlers with ADHD also may have a hard time sleeping, be slow to calm themselves when excited, be unable to focus on even the shortest tasks, show little interest in quiet activities and constantly move around.
However, toddlers exhibiting signs of ADHD are able to maintain normal concentration when they are involved in their favorite activities.
An accurate ADHD diagnosis is based on the degree of hyperactivity, impulse control and attention span. Unfortunately, normal behavior for toddlers and preschoolers may be mistaken for symptoms of ADHD. This makes the accuracy of a diagnosis of ADHD in toddlers a matter of debate. Some researchers believe ADHD can be reliably diagnosed in 3-year-olds, and the American Academy of Pediatrics states that 4-year-olds can suffer from ADHD.
On the other hand, ADHD may also go undiagnosed because parents expect some behavior disruptions in toddlers who are naturally impulsive and active. In the 1960s and 1970s, 80 percent of cases went undiagnosed or untreated. To avoid an incorrect diagnosis, tests for vision and hearing are necessary, as a toddler's lack of interest could be due to insufficient visual or auditory stimulation.