Why are we medicating so many of our young African-American males for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Recent studies show that there’s a 70 percent increase in ADHD identification for Black children. Black boys are diagnosed with the disorder at a higher rate than any other group of students in the United States.
Educator and school psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson says one way that schools deal with perceived “bad behavior” is to diagnose and medicate students for Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Dr. Johnson joined Roland Martin Wednesday on NewsOne Now to discuss his book, Psycho-Academic Holocaust: The Special Education & ADHD Wars Against Black Boys, the increase in misdiagnosis of ADHD in the Black community, how to combat the American education system’s use of ADHD, and behavioral disorders that stigmatize African-American youth.
“ADHD as a diagnosis came to us in 1980,” Johnson told Martin. Then it was called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). In 1987, the “H” for hyperactivity was added to ADHD, he added.
“When it became ADHD, it opened up a vacuum that allowed for nearly every child to be diagnosed to prescribe medication, because previously it was attention deficit disorder — once they added the word hyper, it opened up the opportunity for medication.”
Martin highlighted the fact that most children at 7 or 8 years of age are a little hyper. He said, “That’s just being a 7 or 8-year-old kid.” Dr. Johnson agreed with his assessment saying, “It’s normal childhood behavior.”
Dr. Johnson went on to discuss the underlying issues associated with the practice of identifying and diagnosing African-American boys with ADHD saying, “97 percent of public school teachers — charter, independent school teachers are female, so you have to look at the female culture of the schoolhouse and how when boys cannot adjust adequately to female expectations, they are marginalized.”
“When you look at the criteria for ADHD, losing things necessary to get your work done, not being able to pay attention, blurting out answers, having excessive energy — that’s normal male childhood behavior, but when you come to school, you’re kind of expected not to engage in traditional male types of behavior and if you do, you become stigmatized. And then in comes the drug companies, manufacturers of all these popular anti-stimulant medications who pay for a lot of the teacher conferences.”
“They’re fueling the diagnosis. They also fund significantly the American Physiological and the American Psychiatric Association. So a lot of this is about money, it’s not about treatment.”
Dr. Johnson says the best way to combat the misdiagnosis of ADHD is through education, “Parents need to know that in the school, we do not diagnosis ADHD.”
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SOURCE: Elev8, NewsOne Now