2016 TASH Conference has ended
Each year, the TASH Conference strengthens the disability field by connecting attendees to innovative information and resources, facilitating connections between stakeholders within the disability movement, and helping attendees reignite their passion for an inclusive world. This year’s conference theme, “Gateway to Equity,” explores inclusive communities, schools, and workplaces that support people with disabilities, including those with complex support needs, in living a fair, just, and balanced life. Return to TASH website.
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Thursday, December 1 • 1:10pm - 4:15pm
Inclusion Means Diversity & Cultural Competency Symposium LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

In this symposium, researchers will present their findings on issues of cultural and linguistic diversity and discuss the impact of social and systematic factors on students and their families’ ability to access inclusive settings, as these are often intricately interconnected with the families' culture. Researchers will also provide suggestions for working with culturally diverse families.

Research Teams and Topics:
  • 1:10- 1:15 PM- Introduction facilitated by Natalie Holdred 
  • 1:15-1:55 PM Transition Experiences of Spanish-speaking Families. Grace L. Francis,  Judith M.S. Gross,  Kelly Casarez-Velazquez
  • 1:55-2:35 Unsettling the resettled: Autism, race, religion, and socio-economic status intersect in the Somali diaspora. Diana Baker, Hyejung Kim
  • 2:35-3:15 Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Social Skills Interventions for Children with Autism.Hyejung Kim, Rachel Saffo 
  • 3:20-4:00 Examining culturally and linguistically diverse families' engagement in the special education process. Zachary Rossetti, Meghan M. Burke, Janet S. Saue
  • 4:00-4:15 Q&A, Reflections, Discussions - reserachers and audience- Facilitated by Natalie Holdred 
Presentation Descriptions:

Transition Experiences of Spanish-speaking Families
This presentation highlights the experiences of Spanish-speaking families as they assist their family members gain competitive employment in their local communities. Participants will learn about barriers to competitive employment, as well as strategies for overcoming barriers. Participants will identify key barriers diverse families identify as preventing competitive employment  Participants will identify how families and practitioners partner overcome barriers to competitive employment   Participants will identify strategies they can immediately employ to capitalize on family strengths and existing services to overcome or prevent barriers to competitive employment.

Unsettling the resettled: Autism, race, religion, and socio-economic status intersect in the Somali diaspora
Increasing numbers of Somali-born American children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (e.g., Miller-Gairy & Mofya, 2015). In fact, some research has suggested that children of Somali origin born in Europe and North American are disproportionately likely to develop the condition (e.g., Bagia & Kung, 2014; Fernell, Mohammed, Martin, Bagenholm, & Gillberg, 2015). Studies have shown that American-born children Somali origin with autism are more likely than their white monolingual English-speaking counterparts to receive late diagnoses, inadequate services (e.g., Miller-Gairy & Mofya, 2015) and to have co-morbid diagnoses of intellectual disabilities (Hewitt et al, 2013). Little research has examined the challenges that arise when Somali-born parents and American-born educators come together to make educational decisions and develop individualized educational programs (IEPs) for children with autism. The present study was designed with the intersectionality framework in mind and examined the interactions among race, ethnicity, language, ableness, religion, and socio-economic status (SES) in the special education planning process.  This study uses a multiple baseline design (e.g., Yin, 2009) to examine the experiences of three Somali-American mothers of boys with autism and paired American-born educators as they go through the IEP development process and attempt to determine mutually agreeable educational goals for the students. Results reveal several important themes.  To start, while the educators take an essentially “colorblind” approach to educational decision-making, race is at the forefront of family members’ experiences and is an important factor in terms of educational planning. In addition, when educators perceive that family's beliefs are based on "they often opt for a hands-off approach in attempt not to be culturally disrespectful, which can lead to diminished communication. Finally, families who participated in this study are very different from one another in terms of educational backgrounds, migration trajectories, and financial resources. These differences point to the meaningful ways in which various identity categories intersect and shape the participants" educational trajectory.  This study provides important implications for practice. Currently, Somali American students with disabilities and their families face many structural obstacles to equitable participation in special education decision-making. This study makes visible the many barriers and suggests practices that may serve as a gateway to more equitable engagement of this group as well as other groups of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Participants will be able to  (1) articulate how various identity categories (e.g., race, ethnicity, social status, religion, immigration history, dis/ability) can intersect and influence experiences with the special education decision-making process; (2) apply the themes that emerged from this study in thinking about their own experiences with diverse students in schools; discuss and describe emerging best practices related to educational decision-making in the context of family members and educators from different cultural backgrounds.  

Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Social Skills Interventions for Children with Autism
Given the rapidly growing number of students with autism from diverse cultural communities in the United States, researchers have steadily emphasized the importance of developing and implementing culturally responsive interventions and practices. Unfortunately, there is no clear understanding of culture and diversity in the field of special education, nor are there guidelines to intertwine students' diversity with the practical process of interventions. The purpose of the article is to discuss effective approaches to consider the cultural responsiveness and social validity of social skills interventions to accommodate increasing needs of students with autism from non-dominant cultural and linguistic communities. Understanding an individual's ecological contexts and needs as well as social validation of interventions among a student's cultural contexts or communities can provide vital information about the contextual fitness of the interventions and further promote feasibility and sustainability of the interventions. Recommendations for practices and research are discussed. By the end of the session, participants will be able to (1) understand the importance of culturally responsive intervention research; (2) address implications for practice such as the need for ecological understanding of socially situated educational backgrounds to assure effectiveness of intervention for students with autism.

Examining culturally and linguistically diverse families' engagement in the special education process
Family engagement in special education has been federally mandated for over 40 years. Unfortunately, research has consistently shown that the federal mandate is not being met for all families. This Research Symposium will share results from three research studies that examined the engagement of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families in the special education process and identified barriers to and facilitators of meaningful engagement. This focus aligns with the conference's "Gateway to Equity" theme in that meaningful family engagement is a critical component in improving the effectiveness of special education programs and maximizing inclusive education. After this session, participants will be able to (1) describe the legal mandate of parent participation under IDEA;  (2) summarize the need for supporting meaningful engagement of CLD families during the special education process; (3) identify research-based interventions and approaches to support meaningful engagement of CLD families during the special education process. 

avatar for Natalie Holdren

Natalie Holdren

Faculty, University of California, Santa Barbara
Inclusive Education, Cultural & Linguistic Competence, Literacy Instruction, Family-Professional-Student Partnerships, Post-secondary Education

avatar for Meghan Burke

Meghan Burke

Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
avatar for Grace Francis

Grace Francis

Assistant Professor, Special Education, George Mason University
avatar for Hyejung Kim

Hyejung Kim

PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Thursday December 1, 2016 1:10pm - 4:15pm CST
Grand F&E 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103