Like all disorders, ADHD is defined by a group of symptoms, namely those related to inattention and hyperactivity. For children, these symptoms commonly interfere with school, home, and social life. However, there can be other causes besides ADHD for these disruptions to behavior and attention (see my previous post about The Deepest Well and ACEs, for example).
A recent study (Cénat et al., 2020) showed that about 15% of Black children have ADHD diagnoses, which is higher than the overall prevalence of about 10%. Are Black children more likely to have ADHD, or simply more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis?
Knowing that Black students, as well as students with ADHD, are more likely to be suspended from school, we can see how this diagnosis relates to topics such as systemic racism and the school-to-prison pipeline. For children with ADHD, a diagnosis may lead to opportunities for more support. But using the ADHD label for behavior problems without a clear understanding of context can be harmful.