Children’s Health

Misdiagnosing ADHD in Our Black Kids

Written by Evans Kinyua

As parents, we observe our children’s behavior and interaction as they grow. Some Black children may demonstrate behaviors such as excessive physical energy, acting without thinking and interrupting conversations among others. While these behaviors may be normal, our children might be misdiagnosed for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Let’s talk about how some of our kids might be facing misdiagnosis and what we can do about it. Clinicians may prioritize white parents’ requests for ADHD diagnoses and treatments, leading to underdiagnoses and/or misdiagnosis among Black children and ethnic groups.

So, are our children being misdiagnosed with ADHD? It’s a tough question with a complicated answer. Studies indicate that Black children tend to receive ADHD diagnoses at higher rates compared to their white peers. Now, why is this happening? Most studies of the relationship between race and ADHD show that children of color are underdiagnosed and undertreated for the disorder compared to white children. It is important observe our children’s behavior in comparison to other children to establish whether they really suffer from ADHD. We should seek opinions from multiple doctors especially culturally informed experts to enhance accurate diagnosis of the condition.

Reasons for Misdiagnosis

Disparity in cultural practices.

Different communities practice different beliefs, myths, and misconceptions about certain behaviors. It’s important to understand how different our culture is and how likely it is for us to have different interpretation of certain behaviors. Well, some behaviors that might be totally okay and normal to your Black children may be misunderstood as signs of ADHD by doctors who aren’t familiar with these cultural norms. Like, being expressive or lively might be seen as a problem when it’s just how our kids cope.

Societal Biases.

Sometimes, society has these preconceived ideas about how kids should behave. When Black kids act in ways that don’t match those stereotypes, it might lead healthcare practitioners to think something’s up with their attention or behavior, even when it’s not the case. Healthcare practitioners understand and practice cross-cultural communications; and should rise beyond societal stereotypes such as mischief, disruption, and boundless energy among young boys can be misinterpreted as signs and symptoms of ADHD while it is a normal behavior.

Access to Good Healthcare.

 Research shows that a majority of our Black children come from low socioeconomic backgrounds with poor economic status. Most times they may not be in a position to access ADHD-specific specialists which leads to misdiagnosis of the condition.  Not everyone has easy access to great healthcare. So, our Black kids might not get thorough assessments they need, leading to rushed judgments and, you guessed it, misdiagnosis.

Cultural Know-How.

Some healthcare practitioners might not really get where our kids are coming from. They might not have the knowledge to understand how our culture influences our behaviors, which can lead to misunderstandings. Besides, there more white ADHD experts compared to their Black counterparts. This scenario increases the risk of underdiagnoses and misdiagnosis due to barriers related to cultural understanding.

Symptoms Similarity.

Various diseases have various signs and symptoms. ADHD symptoms can be pretty tricky. There are other conditions that might have similar signs and symptoms to those of ADHD leading to misdiagnosis. For instance, medical conditions such as Bipolar disorder share similar signs and symptoms such as mood changes, restlessness, and talkativeness. Other conditions with similar signs and symptoms include autism, low blood sugar levels, sensory processing disorder and sleep disorders. They can look like other issues or even just regular kid behavior. So, if doctors don’t look closely or consider everything, they might miss the mark.

Communication Barriers.

Sometimes, there might be a gap in communication between healthcare practitioners and families. This can make it tough for everyone to get on the same page about a child’s behaviors and what they might mean. Doctors do not take appropriate time to monitor our children behaviors to establish the exact behaviors themselves leading to rushed conclusions and recommendations.

Solutions to This Menace

There are steps we can take to address this. First of all, let’s talk about the importance of understanding our cultural differences. It’s crucial that healthcare providers get the right training to recognize and appreciate the diversity within our community. There is need to rise above cultural beliefs and perceptions about certain symptoms and their cultural connection to certain conditions.

We also need to push for better access to healthcare. Everyone deserves the chance for a proper assessment and diagnosis, no matter where they live or what their background is. It’s about creating fairness and giving every child a fair shot at accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Reducing biases is another crucial step. We need to ensure that our kids are evaluated fairly, without any preconceived notions affecting the diagnosis. It’s about making sure that the whole picture is seen, taking into account our culture and context. Needless to say, the most common cause of bias is racial discrimination. We should live to fight against racial discrimination against Black community to enhance accurate and professional treatment.

As responsible parents, we should:
become appropriate advocates for our children’s safety by ensuring we obtain thorough and professional diagnosis,
learn to ask relevant questions on medical diagnosis of any condition,
seek medical opinions and advice from Black healthcare practitioners to enhance the accuracy of diagnosis and understand the professional approach of cross cultural communication, and
share experiences with other Black parents who may have more knowledge on the condition as a parent.

Education is power, right? That’s why spreading awareness about ADHD symptoms, treatment options, and reducing stigma is vital. The more we know, the better equipped we are to navigate these situations and advocate for our children. It is essential to get the right facts about conditions and symptoms to enhance accurate diagnosis of ADHD condition.

Collaboration is key here. When healthcare professionals, educators, researchers, and our community come together, magic happens. It’s about understanding the root causes, working together, and creating real change. Remember, this is a complex issue, but it’s not insurmountable. By working together, raising our voices, and advocating for our children, we can make strides in ensuring accurate diagnoses and support for every child. It’s about ensuring that every child gets the right help, at the right time, in the right way. Our children deserve nothing less!

Further Reading,may%20be%20overlooked%2C%20research%20shows.&text=Children%20of%20color%20with%20ADHD,with%20the%20condition%2C%20research%20shows.

About the author

Evans Kinyua

Evans is a writing enthusiast with a quench for knowledge and a flair for storytelling. He is a versatile writer who navigates various disciplines with ease. His expertise spans a wide spectrum, allowing him to delve into diverse subjects, ranging from history, science, technology, and business to arts, culture, psychology, and more. As a seasoned wordsmith, Evans excels in delivering captivating and informative articles that resonate with audiences across different fields.

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