As many of us already know, ADHD was originally viewed as a “white kid” disorder. It hasn’t been until recent that ADHD and learning disabilities has become a more prominent diagnosis in the Black child and surprisingly even researchers claim they don’t know why our children are now taking the lead.
However, whatever the case may be and rather or not one believes ADHD is a real disorder or not; we must responsibly take the steps to ensure we are taking extra precautionary measures in order to make sure our children are not being misdiagnosed due to stereotypes, racism, and teaching failures. Due to the many failures of the health system when it comes to African Americans we have to pick up in areas where they are continuously failing us.
Before allowing your Black child to have the label of ADHD go through these steps first.
Is there impairment?
Is ADHD truly interfering with your child’s development? Do you notice a decline in classwork and grades? If so, have you taken the time to work with them at home or hire a tutor? Does the child’s teacher give suggestions? How is the child’s attention in class? Have you or someone you trust been there to personally observe your child’s behavior?
Is the child showing ADHD symptoms at school AND at home?
If the child is only showing ADHD symptoms at school and not in the home then there is a strong possibility that there is a teaching gap. There are many teachers hired to educate Black children that are unable to teach them on their level; because they lack the ability to nourish the child based on their interest, needs, and background. Simply put, sometimes our children and their teacher don’t relate and therefore both parties feel a disconnect and this can cause a child to act in a way that the teacher will wrongfully assume is ADHD when in fact the teacher is completely failing socially.
Please note: Teachers are not medical professionals
Has the child been through traumatic experiences or have they been isolated?
These situations can cause a child to “act out” and have issues with others as they try to process what is happening mentally. It isn’t a case of ADHD, try a behavioral therapist that they can relate to and can have open and judgement free conversation with before accepting it as ADHD. Many kids in our community have misplaced and mismanaged emotions for various personal, cultural, and societal reasons.
Is your clinician aware and conscious to specific norms in the Black community?
There have been countless situations where clinicians have brought their bias, ignorance, and stereotypes to the workplace causing an over-diagnosis of disorders in African American youth. Maybe the child is loud and from an outgoing family, maybe the child is a natural funny girl or guy, maybe the child’s family doesn’t conduct themselves in the same manner as the families your clinician regularly surround themselves with on a normal basis. Make sure you’re choosing a well-rounded clinician that is mindful of race specific norms.
By: Moms of Color