I have finally tracked down an old paper I wrote regarding the cultural differences and bias in the classification of children, specifically between ADHD and ED, in Special Education.
While this paper is over five years old, that different cultures and minorities are treated differently in the Special Education process hasn’t. Further, in the five years since writing this, I would add another component to the mixture, the relatively wealth and academic achievement of the district. In other words, rich schools that routinely have the higher scores in the state will generally offer better Special Education services to more student than a poor school with lower scores.
One line from my paper regarding ADHD stands out, even more so today, then perhaps it did five years ago. “While the condition has been around for over a century, today it is still one of the most debated disorders in the DSM IV.” There are many who do not believe in the ADHD diagnosis and there have even been recent articles that continue to push the view point that ADHD is nothing but bad parenting. See Ritalin Gone Wrong With rebuttals/Responses at Time and Child Mind Institute .
While I respect everyone’s right to disagree on a diagnosis, articles like Ritalin Gone Wrong ultimately hurt the children who’s parents do not seek help in order to avoid being blamed or given guilt trips for doing this to their child. They avoid getting a proper diagnosis because they believe it is something they have done wrong and all they have to do is change something or because they do not want to feel judged. And the statistics of this happening are astounding. But seems that every time we make progress on the cultural divide, we see articles like the above, that forces us to take a few steps back.