Black school children remain underdiagnosed for ADHD compared to their white counterparts. According to a Penn State report published in September, they are 40% less likely to be diagnosed with the neurological condition than white students in a similar setting – including economic status, behavior and student achievement.


Black boys were found to be diagnosed 60% less than white males in similar circumstances, although their chances of having ADHD are the same, according to another study.

“If I was able to get a diagnosis, I would have had a lot more support and love in my life,” Wesley Jackson Wade, a licensed mental health and addiction counselor and doctoral student, told CBS News. He was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia at 37 years old.


He pointed to medication and behavioral tools as having made it easier to focus and regulate his mood. Wade also said the diagnosis helped him manage his depression and anxiety.

“Now it’s an understanding of how I exist, how my brain works,” Wade said. “I don’t think that I’m just broken.”

Nearly 1 in 10 American children have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the CDC. Rates have surged by nearly 70% in the past two decades, indicates another study. Undiagnosed and untreated children with ADHD face higher health risks such as drug addiction, self-harm, accidents and death.


Underdiagnosis has also been linked to harsher discipline in schools, especially for Black students.

“ADHD is an accelerant to my Black experience,” Wade said. “I can’t separate my experiences as a Black boy and Black man from my experiences of understanding my neurodivergent identity.”

Black children often face punishment for behavioral and mental health conditions, where their white counterparts are more likely to be diagnosed and given medical treatment.