Wesley Jackson Wade, a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Durham, #NorthCarolina, shares his personal journey of being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and #dyslexia at the age of 37. Despite growing up with educated parents, Wade, as one of the few Black students in predominantly white schools, faced challenges that went unrecognized.
"Black kids at a very young age, we start dealing with race, we have a lot of racial stamina," said Wade, who now lives outside of Durham, North Carolina. "But I didn't understand until later on that there was probably something else going on."
He reflects on the racial disparities in #ADHD diagnoses, citing a #PennState study that found Black students' odds of being diagnosed were 40% lower than their white peers, with a particularly stark 60% difference for young Black males. These disparities contribute to the "school-to-prison pipeline," as Black children are more likely to face punishment, including criminal prosecution, for behavioral issues linked to ADHD.
Experts, including George DuPaul from #Lehigh University, emphasize that ADHD diagnoses are influenced by cultural and racial contexts. Wade's experiences highlight the need for culturally sensitive screening and addressing Black families' concerns about bias in the diagnosis process. The underdiagnosis of ADHD in Black children results in harsher school discipline, reinforcing racial inequities.
Wade's late diagnosis impacted his confidence and mental well-being, but he acknowledges the positive impact of behavioral tools and medication. He now works to help Black and neurodivergent individuals identify ADHD and other conditions, emphasizing the importance of early diagnosis and support. Wade reflects on the remaining stigma around ADHD, particularly for Black children, and hopes his work contributes to breaking down barriers and providing much-needed support for future generations.
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