Maternal report of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in preschool children

G. A. Gimpel, B. R. Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Two hundred and fifty-three mothers were surveyed regarding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in their preschool children (aged 2-6 years). Twenty-four children (9.5%) met DSM-IV criteria (criterion A only) for ADHD based solely on parent report. Mean ratings of the three core symptoms of ADHD (hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness) were in the mid-range on a 1-7 point scale, with mothers indicating their children were most likely to be impulsive. Positive parental endorsement of the 18 individual DSM-IV symptoms of ADHD ranged from 4% for 'loses things necessary for tasks', to 28.4% for 'is on the go or acts as if driven by a motor'. Males and children of less-educated parents were more likely to receive endorsement of ADHD symptoms. There were no differences with respect to age of the child or birth order (first vs later born). Global ratings of hyperactivity and inattentiveness predicted overall ratings of ADHD but when classification rates were examined, high global ratings were not predictive of diagnosis. These results lend support to the notion that relying solely on parents' verbal reports of isolated ADHD symptoms may lead to over-identification of the disorder. Thus, using full DSM-IV diagnostic criteria and including standardized behaviour rating scales across multiple informants and settings, is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Behaviour problems
  • Preschool children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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