On this page, you can explore the following topics (click on the topic of interest):
- What is Cultural Competence?
- Why is Cultural Competence Important?
- Where to Start?
- What is Cultural Responsiveness?
- Additional Resources
While there are no differences in ASD symptoms across different countries or ethnic groups, there are differences in the overall identification, particularly the cases of misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis in minorities.
Cultural competence focuses on understanding and appropriate response to the unique combination of cultural, linguistic and individual diversity that the professional and client/patient/family bring to interactions.
The terms culture and linguistics refer to patterns of human behavior, including language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or other groups (e.g., gender identity/gender expression, age, national origin, sexual orientation, disability) (ASHA, 2017).
Differences do not imply deficiencies or disorders. Culture and language may influence behaviors and attitudes of individuals seeking care. In turn, delivery of services is influenced by the values and experiences of providers. Culturally competent care means providing service that is respectful of, and responsive to, an individual’s values, preferences, and language. Care should not vary in quality based on ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or other factors.
Federal and state regulations and programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), require that providers render culturally and linguistically appropriate services. These programs are in accordance with broader legislation such as Title VI, Executive Order 13166, and National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).
Massachusetts Act Early created a skills-based training curriculum, Considering Culture in Autism Screening, an interactive, case-based training about culturally competent screening, evaluation, and referral to intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Several organizations have also developed an implementation guides to help providers consider and implement policies that focus on cultural competence. Here are some of them:
- Best Practice Highlights for Treating Diverse Patient Populations by the American Psychiatric Association
- National Center for Cultural Competence: Getting Started and Moving on
- A Physician’s Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Care
- Indiana Department of Education: School Climate and Cultural Awareness
- Tip Sheet: Engaging People with Disabilities in Evidence-Based Programs
Cultural responsive teaching or instruction refers to a “pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Ladson-Billings, 1994, p. 382). To be culturally responsive, teachers make content and curricula accessible to students in a way that students can relate to and understand, including embedding aspects of students’ daily lives into the curriculum. These could be language, prior knowledge, and interests. (ASCD, 2011).
National and Nationwide Resources:
- National Center for Cultural Competence
- National Latino Health Association
- National Center for Learning Disabilities: Significant Disproportionality In Special Education Report (2020)
- Trans LifeLine
- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Fast Facts:
- National Institute of Health: Cultural respect
- Department of Health and Human Services: Think Cultural Health
- The Arc: Promoting Cultural Competence
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