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Cultural awareness is a necessity when providing services to a culturally and linguistically diverse population. Culture influences a family’s’ values, religion, language preference, kin structure, child-rearing practices, roles and responsibilities of family members, and perception of health and behavior; specifically, the perception of disability (McLeod, Verdon et. al 2017). Cultural beliefs can also influence which therapy assessments are used and whether a parent chooses to access services (McLeod et. al, 2017). Cultural awareness includes knowledge and understanding of the values and norms of different cultural groups, recognition of culturally based assumptions and biases and demonstrating skills that meet the need of clients from a diverse background (Lemmon& Jackson-Bowen,2013). In order to serve diverse students, professionals should be able to recognize how their own identity has influenced their learning opportunities. Professionals must be able to assess their own attitudes towards issues of diversity and be willing to transform views that create difficulty.

Being a culturally sensitive clinician is vital in establishing trust and open communication with patients and in order to effectively diagnose and treat an individual (Lemmon& Jackson-Bowen,2013). An intervention that is not relevant to the client and not functional for their participation in daily life is not valuable (Verdon, McLeod, & Wong, 2015). Culturally and linguistically diverse children and families may not speak the dominant language or share the same culture within their social context. This also includes those exposed to multiple linguistic and cultural influences. Both of these groups have limited cultural and linguistic services available in speech language pathology services (Verdon, McLeod, Wong, 2015). The prevalence of speech sound disorders is similar in monolingual and multilingual populations; however, multilingual children are at greater risk for being both over-referred and under-referred for speech language pathology (SLP) and special education services (McLeod et. al, 2017).

As of 2010, The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Code of Ethics holds licensed and practicing speech language therapists accountable for maintaining multicultural competence (The American Speech Language Hearing Association, 2017). Although it was implied prior to 2010, it was not explicitly required. Multicultural competencies are now incorporated throughout each of the nine content areas of knowledge and skill acquisition that are needed to obtain a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). The Multi-Cultural Issues Board also increases cultural awareness for ASHA by developing policies and procedures that are responsive to cultural and linguistic influences, particularly those present in underrepresented populations (Lemmon& Jackson-Bowen,2013).


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Thesis Comittee

Dr. Meghan McCoy, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Miller, Committee Member

Professor Glenna Caliendo, Committee Member

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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