Social Injustices of Undiagnosed ADHD Birthed a Career

This is one of occasional articles that grow out of chat room conversations. It was first published in October of 2010.

Judith Champion, 2012 ACO Conference Chair, chose the conference theme ‘The Many Faces of ADHD’ out of her professional experience from an interest and passion about the social injustices of undiagnosed ADHD. Right out of graduate school with a master’s in social work, she had some experience working with women in prisons, and then she became overwhelmed when learning a few of the following statistics through her ensuing work with CHADD:

  • Research shows that there is a 7% to 12% ADHD prevalence rate across all ethnicities.
  • Research also shows that only 20% of people at-risk of ADHD in the African American and Hispanic communities are ever diagnosed and treated. Conservatively, let’s say a 10% ADHD prevalence; that’s 2 out of every 100 minority individuals who are diagnosed, and 8 who are undiagnosed. In a Head Start program with 500 preschoolers, that’s 50 kids at-risk, 10 who will be identified and 40 who will not.
  • We all know that children with undiagnosed ADHD are labeled as “bad” due to behavior challenges, fail in school, and often drop out due to difficulty with school performance and low self-esteem.
  • These teens who drop out of school believe they are failures, have great difficulty with motivation, and frequently begin to self-medicate. This results in involvement in the juvenile justice system.
  • Upon reaching adulthood, their inappropriate behavior escalates until they are imprisoned.
  • Research shows that 65% of the inmates in American prisons, in all states, have an undiagnosed behavioral health issue.
  • Research also shows that 50% of that population, has undiagnosed ADHD.

A Business Grows from Training and Teaching

Upon learning these statistics and becoming incensed, she decided to figure out something to do on the front end, when the children are young. That is when she began working with Head Start:

  • Training Early Childhood Educators and Teaching Assistants to identify children at-risk of ADHD
  • Teaching parents about ADHD and how to parent challenging children
  • Case Conferencing with Educators on the most challenging children
  • Teaching strategies to improve teacher interaction and responsiveness to our children, maximizing the learning potential for challenging children and reducing disruption in the classroom.

Support for early identification and diagnosis of these vulnerable children minimizes their heading down the self-esteem drain. As a result of her passionate workshops, she receives requests for Teacher ADHD training from Head Start programs that are too far away for her to reach. Judith remains involved as a social worker and is now trained as an ADHD coach.

Many ACO coaches are adult coaching-oriented. But if you have a desire to assist families, if you would like to spread ADHD information to teachers, if her story strikes a bell in your heart or soul, or if you feel the social injustice of what is going on, please contact her by email.

It is possible for ADHD coaches to make a living out of this passion.

Judith Champion, MSW, ACG
Coach and Educator