ADHD Myths & Facts

The Ongoing Work of Normalizing ADHD in BIPOC Communities

In communities of color, many caregivers still believe that ADHD is over-diagnosed, and that medication is used as a substitute for discipline. We’ve come a long way in addressing ADHD stigma and increasing representation in the medical community, but advocacy remains a key part of achieving health equity over the next 25 years.

Silhouette featuring diverse races and voices covers right half of image and is featured over a white background.
Multi cultural society and multiculturalism as a celebration of diverse cultures and diversity or African black pride as a multicultural social unity with people of different races united in a 3D illustration style.

I was in the early stages of my own ADHD advocacy journey when ADDitude came on the scene 25 years ago. Since then, the conversation around ADHD in communities of color has evolved, but many beliefs have remained unchanged.

Far too many people of color still believe that our children are over-diagnosed and over-medicated for ADHD. They believe that giving our children ADHD medication means we are not capable of disciplining them, so we use pills to control them.

At the same time, many clinicians and education professionals still perceive ADHD as a disorder of little white boys and attribute the very same behaviors in Black children as seriously problematic, with no thought that ADHD might be the issue. This mindset continues to inflict serious consequences on Black children.

[Sign Up: The Clinicians’ Guide to Differential Diagnosis of ADHD]

Welcoming Clinicians of Color

One of the most impactful and important changes of the last 25 years is that we finally have some treating professionals who look like us and sound like us; not nearly enough, but some. This makes a tremendous difference in understanding, diagnosing, and treating ADHD in our communities. We are much more likely to trust doctors and other mental health professionals who we feel at least partially understand us and can relate to our experiences. We now have African-American and other coaches of color who were not available a generation ago. Given the importance of coaching, especially for teens and adults with ADHD, this is a huge positive change.

More adults today not only acknowledge and embrace their diagnosis, but actually celebrate it through advocacy and public-facing activities. African-American and Latinx men and women have launched Facebook pages, virtual support groups, blogs, and podcasts in which they address the challenges of, and solutions to, living with ADHD. Aside from bringing ADHD “out of the closet,” these advocates help reduce the stigma around the disorder and give hope to many with ADHD who have felt isolated and alone.

In some ways, we’ve been fighting the same battle for the 30 years of my career as an ADHD advocate. But we also have made great progress around neurodivergence in communities of color.

Let’s work together to make giant strides for the next 25 years!

Advocating for Diversity in ADHD Care: Next Steps

Evelyn Polk Green, M.Ed., is a past president of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).

Since 1998, ADDitude has worked to provide ADHD education and guidance through webinars, newsletters, community engagement, and its groundbreaking magazine. To support ADDitude’s mission, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.