In this research piece by our intern, Gaelle, she will use her personal background and knowledge as a pre-law student at the University of Florida to discuss the struggles faced by Black women with late ADHD diagnosis, exploring the underlying factors that contribute to this disparity and the importance of raising awareness and improving support systems.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals of all backgrounds. However, for Black women, the journey to an accurate ADHD diagnosis is often fraught with challenges. One of the key challenges Black women encounter is underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of ADHD. In most cases, children are diagnosed under the age of 12 years old, sometimes later in childhood. The symptoms of ADHD can manifest differently in women, often presenting as inattentiveness, executive function difficulties, and internal restlessness. These symptoms may be mistaken for personality traits, stress, or other mental health conditions, leading to missed opportunities for proper diagnosis in early childhood.

Cultural Stigma and ADHD Diagnosis for Black Women

Cultural stigma and stereotypes surrounding mental health within the Black community can further complicate the path to an ADHD diagnosis. The strong cultural value placed on resilience and overcoming challenges may discourage seeking help or discussing mental health concerns openly. Stereotypes about Black women wished as the “strong Black woman” archetype, can also lead to their symptoms being dismissed or overlooked.

Cultural Competence and Diagnosis Delays for Black Women with ADHD

A lack of culturally competent assessment tools and healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about ADHD in Black women can contribute to delays in diagnosis. The diagnostic criteria and assessment methods are primarily based on research conducted with predominantly white male populations. Consequently, the unique experiences and expressions of ADHD symptoms in Black women when they are children may be inadequately recognized or understood. Many women do not even seek a diagnosis in adulthood until they have a child that receives a diagnosis and they notice similarities in themselves.

Emotional Impact of Late ADHD Diagnosis in Black Women

Late diagnosis can also impact the emotional well-being and self-esteem of Black women. In a study done by Kiana Clerkley of California State University, San Bernardino, “75.00% of participants reported that their ADHD left a large impact on their work responsibilities, such as staying on task and maintaining appropriate concentration and focus while at work” (Clerkley, 2022). Struggling with unexplained challenges and feeling misunderstood can lead to feelings of frustration, self-doubt, and a sense of not living up to one’s potential. It is crucial to recognize and address the emotional toll that a late ADHD diagnosis can have on the mental health of black women.

Addressing Struggles of Black Women with Late ADHD Diagnosis

The struggles faced by Black women with late ADHD diagnoses are multifaceted and require comprehensive solutions. Increasing awareness about the unique manifestations of ADHD in Black women, reducing cultural stigma, and promoting culturally competent assessment and treatment are key steps forward. It is imperative to provide accessible and inclusive resources that acknowledge the diverse experiences of Black women and empower them to seek the support they need. By dismantling barriers we can ensure that all individuals, regardless of race or gender, receive timely and accurate ADHD diagnoses, opening the doors to a brighter and more fulfilling future.


Barragan, A. (2020). The Relationship Between ADHD and Anxiety in Children: A Meta-Analysis [Doctoral dissertation, California State University, San Bernardino]. CSUSB ScholarWorks.

NHS. (2018, July 6). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).,it%27s%20diagnosed%20later%20in%20childhood