1. SLP Misidentification: Native Americans

“Over-identification of Native children as needing special education, including speech-language treatment, was a key concern identified in a recently completed study of Native American students in Washington state public schools” (Inglebret et al., Infusing Tribal Culture in Washington Schools, The ASHA Leader, 15, 24-25, 2010). In Washington state, there is an “achievement gap” between Native and non-Native children.

Overidentification of Native children was traced to a “lack of visibility of Native culture in the regular curriculum..,” resource distribution, personnel preparation, and misuse of standardized testing procedures.

Standard testing procedures rely on formats involving pictures and written words having limited Native content. “As a consequence, standardized testing procedures may be unfamiliar to a child and disconnected from daily life and may not, therefore, accurately reflect a child’s full potential.” Thus misevaluation leads to overidentification to say nothing about the problems of exiting Native children from speech and language services.

SLPs often do not have enough information to interpret cultural and linguistic differences: “For example, a boy who speaks White Mountain Apache may seem to be lisping to the ear of the referring teacher. A science approach is to point out that his native language contains a lateral stop fricative that sounds exactly like a lisp. Therefore, there is no diagnosis of disability. The boy simply has an accent carried over from his first language” (cf. 5. SLP Caseloads).

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