ADHD and LDs affect millions of Americans a year. Sadly, there are significant racial differences in diagnosing and managing ADHD. Children of color are far less likely to receive a diagnosis than white adolescents. This unfortunate reality causes suffering for years, if not lifetimes, as patients are unaware that ADHD is the fundamental reason for their difficulties.
Here’s what we know:
- ADHD has become stigmatized. The general population believes that ADHD is not real, overdiagnosed and that those who live with it are over-medicated. This stigma can quickly compound the difficulties individuals with ADHD already face, leading to feelings of rejection and even obstructing accurate diagnosis and treatment early, which is an essential part of success. The stigmas associated with ADHD leave many children suffering with LD or ADHD in silence.
- According to a CDC study, 14% of children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD or a learning disability, including 17% of Black children, 15% of white children, and 12% of Hispanic children. Children from lower-income homes were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or a learning disability than those from higher-income families (19% vs. 13%).
This difference in diagnosis comes from a lack of support from inside the home or the school system. Children in lower-income areas are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD but will still struggle to acclimate to a traditional classroom setting. Without adequate support, youth believe the stigmas associated with ADHD and LD.
- While making a diagnosis, diversity and cultural differences are ignored. Every stage of the help-seeking process involves social and cultural considerations, which have an impact on the accessibility and effectiveness of ADHD treatment for children of ethnic minorities. Racial/ethnic differences in ADHD diagnosis begin in kindergarten and last until the end of eighth grade.
Differences in diagnosis and treatment plans can ultimately impact the child and cause them to not receive adequate care. Understanding cultural differences will allow teachers, therapists, and programs like SOAR to adequately care for individuals struggling with ADHD.
- To properly care for a child with LD or ADHD, a thorough examination by a qualified provider, clear communication with parents, and close follow-up of progress are all necessary. Still, they are not always available, especially to minorities.
This is easier said than done. The healthcare system has historically overlooked the Black community leaving many to struggle without a proper diagnosis or treatment plan. Medical mistrust is widespread, preventing many minorities from seeking care when they are most in need. This obstacle will be challenging to overcome, but unless individuals begin speaking up and making changes, children of color will continue undiagnosed.
By being a voice for all of our camper’s, student’s, and participant’s communities, SOAR seeks to be a resource and support adolescents trying to manage and understand their ADHD and LD diagnosis. Change can only be made where action is taken. While our staff are not trained medical professionals, they are determined to care for our youth and can provide stability, teach acceptance, and break down barriers. Part of SOAR’s mission is to help underserved communities gain access to tools and knowledge that will help them succeed in their lives.
NCLD – https://www.ncld.org/
CHADD - https://chadd.org/black-history-month/
NCCSD Clearinghouse – https://www.nccsdclearinghouse.org/adhd-and-learning-disability-resources.html
Peer support groups – https://add.org/african-american-adhd-peer-support-group/