What are some of the disparities that minorities face who have ADHD?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is some disagreement about whether minorities are overdiagnosed with ADHD or whether it is overrepresented in the population, but minorities with ADHD are more likely to suffer consequences due to inadequate treatment.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition resulted in loss of focus and increase in hyperactive behaviors.  Recent studies have demonstrated that ADHD diagnoses are on the rise in black children (USA Today).  However, these children are not as likely to get treatment.  This is especially the case in children of poverty, who do not have access to health care or whose parents do not consider ADHD a treatable condition.

Sometimes lack of diagnosis is not a result of lack of access to medical care, but social stigma.  A 1998 study by Bussing demonstrated that there are many barriers to treatment in minority populations other than cost.  These factors “unrelated to need” were:

(1) a lack of perceived need; (2) system barriers including availability, cost and language; (3) concerns that their children would be taken from the home if parents seek services; (4) stigma associated with seeking help for mental illnesses…. (help4adhd.org)

Thus minorities face a significant number of challenges in terms of ADHD.  Based on the studies, they may be more likely to have the condition, they may be less likely to seek treatment, and they may be less likely to have access to treatment.  Studies have also shown that minority children with ADHD symptoms are more likely to face disciplinary action. 

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