Underdiagnosed and undertreated, Black students with ADHD get left behind
As a kid, Wesley Jackson Wade should have been set up to succeed. His father was a novelist and corporate sales director, his mother a special education teacher. But Wade said he struggled through school even though he was an exceptional writer and communicator. He played the class clown when he wasn’t feeling challenged. He got in trouble for talking back to teachers. And, the now 40-year-old said, he often felt anger that he couldn’t bottle up.
As one of the only Black kids in predominantly white schools in upper-middle-class communities — including the university enclaves of Palo Alto and Chapel Hill, N.C. — he often got detention for chatting with his white friends during class, while they got only warnings. He chalked it up to his being Black. Ditto, he said, when he was wrongly arrested as an eighth-grader for a bomb threat at his school while evacuating with his white friends. So he wasn’t surprised that his behavioral issues drew punishment, even as some white friends with similar symptoms instead started getting treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.