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The Opportunity Gap

Kids of color who have ADHD and other common learning differences often face a double stigma. But there’s a lot that families can do to address the opportunity gap in our communities. Host Julian Saavedra is a father of two. He's also an assistant principal who has spent nearly 20 years working in public schools. Join Saavedra as he talks with parents and experts and offers tips to help you advocate for your child. Comments? Email us at

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Latest episodes

April 10, 2024

Myths and misinformation about ADHD and learning differences show up all the time on social media. Find out whats fact and whats fiction, and learn about the impact of these myths on kids of color.

March 27, 2024

ADHD advocate René Brooks was diagnosed with ADHD twice as a child. But it wasn’t until she was diagnosed again as an adult that she finally got support. Listen to her story.

March 13, 2024

Learn about the steps to getting an IEP and starting your child’s special education program. Get tips from an expert.

February 14, 2024

Learn how four members of the Understood team are making an impact in the lives of people with learning and thinking differences.

January 31, 2024

How can high-schoolers and their families prepare for life after high school? Get advice and tips from a college advisor.

January 17, 2024

Some kids don’t like to share information about their school day. Get tips on how to get them to open up and share. These tips and conversation starters can help your child to open up.

January 3, 2024

The school-to-prison pipeline has disrupted education for kids of color for a long time. Learn what the pipeline is and why it’s critical to end it.

December 6, 2023

Telling your relatives about your child’s challenges can be difficult. Get tips on how to make the talk easier to manage.

November 8, 2023

For some students of color, feeling mistreated by teachers is a common experience — and it shouldn’t be. Learn how to help kids self-advocate.

October 25, 2023

Dyslexia is a common learning difference that impacts many kids of color. Hear from an expert and learn ways to support kids in the classroom.

October 11, 2023

What is a learning disability? What is the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan? Get useful information on learning disabilities and discover the ins and outs of special education.

September 27, 2023

Conocer todos los detalles referentes a la educación especial puede resultar abrumador. Obtenga respuestas a preguntas comunes que tienen las familias.

September 13, 2023

English language learners bring unique perspectives to the classroom. It’s important for teachers to learn about their strengths and challenges.

August 2, 2023

When kids with learning and thinking differences have positive self-esteem, they feel confident. Learn ways to build confidence in your child.

June 7, 2023

Summer vacation is a nice long break from the classroom for kids with learning differences. But if kids press “pause” on learning altogether, they may experience the “summer slide.”

May 17, 2023

In Part 2 of our talk about mental health, learn why it’s important for kids to let go of shame and ask for help.

May 3, 2023

In part one of our conversation on mental health, learn about the unique ways a parent’s journey can influence a child’s mental wellness. Get tips on how to support kids’ mental health.

April 5, 2023

Learn about trauma and how it impacts kids of color with learning and thinking differences. Get tips on how to help kids after a traumatic event.

February 15, 2023

Learn about three pioneering Black women with disabilities — activist Lois Curtis, singer Solange Knowles, and author Octavia E. Butler.

February 1, 2023

Learn how to be an equal partner at your child’s IEP meetings. Get tips from education specialist Taína Coleman of the Child Mind Institute.

January 4, 2023

Learn about the intersection of growth mindset, learning differences, and kids of color. See how young adult Savannah Treviño-Casias finds power in “yet.”

December 7, 2022

Is ADHD more likely to be overlooked in Black kids? Or overdiagnosed? Get tips from pediatrician and health-equity researcher Dr. Tumaini Coker.

November 2, 2022

Learn about bias in school discipline and what families of color can do if the teacher says your child is “acting out” in class.

October 5, 2022

Debunked! Learn five common myths about special education, and find out how families can help kids of color get the support they deserve.

September 28, 2022

Listen to the trailer for Season 2 of The Opportunity Gap, a podcast for parents of kids of color who learn and think differently.

June 9, 2022

This Philadelphia mom of eight dedicated herself to advocating for her son with ADHD — and felt judged in the process. Hear her story and advice.

May 26, 2022

Hosts Julian Saavedra and Marissa Wallace respond to three audio stories of bullying, shame, and parenting guilt.

May 12, 2022

Growing up, LeDerick Horne couldn’t read. Today, he’s a poet, activist, and person thriving with dyslexia. Hear his advice for families of color.

April 28, 2022

Schools are seeing an uptick in disengagement and even disrespect from some students. What are the kids trying to tell us?

April 14, 2022

How does talking with kids about race and injustice change when learning differences and disability are part of the picture?

March 31, 2022

Black girls with ADHD and learning differences are often overlooked. Youth advocate Atira Roberson wants that to change.

March 17, 2022

Co-host Marissa Wallace opens up about her biracial son who had language delays as a toddler. Hear her story.

March 3, 2022

Schools are facing a huge shortage of special education teachers. What’s the impact on special education students and kids of color?

February 17, 2022

The podcast welcomes Kimberly Eckert, 2018 Louisiana teacher of the year, for a conversation about race, parenting, and Black history.

February 3, 2022

Kristin Carothers, PhD, joins the show to explain what families of color should know about ADHD, and shares her experiences as a Black doctor.

January 20, 2022

The new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is hitting schools. The hosts discuss the impact on students and on special education services.

January 6, 2022

Kids who have learning and thinking differences can also be gifted. But what does being “twice exceptional” mean when you’re marginalized?

December 16, 2021

Kareem Neal, a special education teacher in Arizona, shares why undocumented families may be fearful of advocating for their kids.

December 2, 2021

Does special education differ for the rich and the poor? Listen as the hosts take on tough questions about IEPs, race, and money.

November 18, 2021

Is ADHD only a “white boy problem”? Hear from researcher Yasmeen Adams about how young people of color perceive ADHD.

November 18, 2021

She’s an Olympic champion, a Black woman, and an advocate for people with ADHD. So why don’t more kids of color know about Simone Biles?

November 11, 2021

Introducing The Opportunity Gap, a podcast for families of kids of color with learning and thinking differences, like dyslexia, ADHD, and more.


  • Julian Saavedra, MA

    is a school administrator who has spent 15 years teaching in urban settings, focusing on social-emotional awareness, cultural and ethnic diversity, and experiential learning.

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