Prior research indicates that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is underdiagnosed, or less likely to be diagnosed, among Black children relative to White children and children in other non-Black racial categories. Scholars have suggested that this may be a result of cultural biases or misconceptions that affect the ways classroom behavior is interpreted. The purpose of this pilot study was to engage a larger theoretical framework that explores the relationships between parents and teachers and to examine some of the ways in which common cultural misconceptions can lead to flawed behavioral ascriptions in the classroom, producing negative social outcomes for Black children. Findings from ethnography and interviews reveal that the most common barriers in this low-income neighborhood school setting included poor parent-teacher rapport, a general lack of basic understanding for how ADHD can affect classroom behavior, and faulty procedures in the school setting based on cultural stereotypes. These findings suggest that school officials’ disinclination to recommend ADHD testing for Black children may be largely a result of the aforementioned obstacles. A larger study based on these results may produce more robust findings about the barriers that contribute to racial disparities in ADHD diagnoses.
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The author would like to acknowledge Zandria Robinson, Anna Mueller, Wesley James, and Courtney Thomas for their advisement during this study.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Moody, M.D. “Us Against Them”: Schools, Families, and the Diagnosis of ADHD Among Black Children. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 4, 949–956 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-016-0298-9