October is ADHD Awareness Month. ADHD is known as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many people struggle with impulsive behavior that may result in not being able to sit still and to constantly be hyperactive. However, for those with ADHD, they have these challenges more persistently. With ADHD, these challenges impact your daily life, school, and work demands.
One of the leading organizations in the fight for ADHD Awareness is the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). CHADD notes that “ADHD persists from childhood to adolescence in the vast majority of cases (50–80 percent), although the hyperactivity may lessen over time.” Like many diagnoses, African Americans are overly represented and sometimes misdiagnosed when it comes to ADHD. “BIPOC children are being overly diagnosed at a higher rate compared to white children. In the U.S., BIPOC children are 70% more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis,” says Kim Beverly, LCPC of KB Counseling and Wellness Services.
“They are also 6 times as likely to be suspended from school for the same behaviors as a white student. A white student is labeled as inattentive or impulsive; whereas a BIPOC student is often labeled lazy or defiant. Trauma, Developmental Trauma and other mental health symptoms can also present as ADHD and not be the case,” Kim continues. In order to view the disparities we have to look at how ADHD is often diagnosed. Many may seek mental health evaluations or simply consult with their primary care physician. It varies for every family, community, and situation.
“ADHD is often diagnosed without calling it such within the schools. This can lead to a student having a 504 plan or an IEP. As an LCPC I can assess and make a diagnosis but I highly recommend that if ADHD is suspected that the parent schedules an evaluation with a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or Neurologist,” Kim Beverly adds. “This is because they will dig much deeper into the children’s background to make sure that there aren’t any other underlying concerns that are presenting as ADHD. However, a masters level clinician, social worker or pediatrician can do so as well” she affirms.
Aside from diagnosing this disorder, many parents often face their own personal struggles. Some parents may feel a sense of shame or failure in realizing that their child’s behavior is becoming more persistent and impulsive. There’s an even bigger stigma among the Black community. Many elders may say: “That child doesn’t need any medicine;” “Just change his diet;” or “Just punish them and be more stern.” “Parenting was a little difficult for me because I didn’t understand and couldn’t identify what was going on with my youngest child. I lacked patience and was frustrated with not being able to help my baby, ” says Chandra Gore of Chandra Gore Consulting.
Like many parents who suspect that their child has ADHD, Chandra took matters into her own hands. She sought out professional help and began to make adjustments within her household. Those adjustments also included a difference in her child’s school accommodations. “My child’s success was the greatest motivation for making the decision to have my son evaluated. Wanting him to be able to learn and not be singled out due his inability to focus was priority. His impulsive behavior caused him to be labeled as having behavioral issues and kept him facing disciplinary actions,” Chandra adds.
Raising a child in a supportive environment is key. Utilizing techniques at home that support your child’s ADHD can benefit them in the classroom and beyond. “One of the routines we had was to decompress after school and to set up a workspace in a space with no distractions. We would turn on music and then get to work. Also, having a timer helped him to manage his time when cleaning and doing homework,” Chandra states. It’s important for parents to know that they are not alone. With education, support, and increased awareness, the stigmas of ADHD are slowly decreasing. “Take your time. Be patient with your child. Do not assume and reassure your child that there is nothing wrong with them,” Gore advises to parents within this ADHD journey.
As with any facet of parenting, it’s important to acknowledge the positive aspects while becoming more aware of the challenging needs. With support, you and your child can lead successful lives. ADHD is a diagnosis but not a dead end or determining factor of success. You are more than ADHD and we can achieve more together. For more resources on ADHD please visit:
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