Academic journal article Communication Disorders Quarterly

The Role of Mexican Immigrant Mothers' Beliefs on Parental Involvement in Speech-Language Therapy

Academic journal article Communication Disorders Quarterly

The Role of Mexican Immigrant Mothers' Beliefs on Parental Involvement in Speech-Language Therapy

Article excerpt

The sociocultural framework highlights the contributions of children's cultural and linguistic contexts to early language and literacy development. To collaborate with parents in early intervention programs, including speech-language therapy, there must be a sincere commitment to the development of cultural competence. Hispanics are one of the largest and fastest growing minority groups within the United States. The goal of this study was to identify Mexican immigrant mothers' perceptions and beliefs about language development, their children's disabilities, and therapy activities. Additionally, it explored how these perceptions and beliefs inform culturally responsive speech-language therapy with families of Mexican descent.


Involving families in speech-language therapy is essential given that language develops through meaningful, reciprocal engagement with significant others in the child's sociocultural context (McLean & Snyder-McLean, 1999). The sociocultural model maintains that the child's interactions, social and communicative, with the important people in his environment are the most salient factors in the acquisition of language (Hulit & Howard, 2002). Consistent with the Vygotskian paradigm, both receptive and expressive language have their roots in social exchanges between the child and caregiver (Vygotsky, 1962). Within the sociolinguistic approach, the overriding motivation for language development is effective communication, and the primary context of interest is the child-mother or child-caregiver pair (Owens, 2005). One of the most significant trends in special education and related services is the construction of programs, for culturally and linguistically diverse populations, that embody the sociocultural perspective (Cruzado-Guerrero & Carta, 2006; Lopez-Reyna, 1996).

Language acquisition and growth of language and literacy occur in children's larger familial and cultural contexts (Coll & Magnuson, 2000; Kayser, 1995; Lynch & Hanson, 1998) and are based in daily parent-child conversations, interactions, and routines (Snow, 1983; Tharp & Gallimore, 1988). Learning to read is a pivotal milestone for children (Scheffner Hammer, Miccio, & Wagstaff, 2003) providing the critical foundation for subsequent academic success (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Vernon-Feagans, Hammer, Miccio, & Manlove, 2001). Not all preschool children with language disorders will exhibit difficulties learning to read; however, research strongly suggests that preschool children with language impairments are at an increased risk for concomitant reading disabilities (Catts, Fey, Zhang, & Tomblin, 2001; Rescorla, 2002; Scarborough, 2001).

Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 requires family-focused interventions, with collaboration among professionals and significant others during "all phases of the service delivery process, through the Individualized Family Service Plan. This renewed focus on the family--their concerns, strengths, needs, and resources--entitles parents to share as equal participants in their children's educational program (Harry, Klingner, & Hart, 2005; Scheffner Hammer, 1998). It also requires that professionals reflect on their own belief systems, the beliefs and values of the families they are serving, and the impact of those beliefs on the service provision process (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2005). The effectiveness of early intervention will depend to a large extent on the provision of services that are culturally desirable and/or acceptable to the families involved (Scheffner Hammer, 1998).

One approach to providing language intervention with preschool children is to teach their parents to serve as the primary intervention agents (Girolametto et al., 2002). Under the rubric of naturalistic approaches to parent training are child-oriented techniques (Fey, 1986); transactional teaching (McLean & Snyder-McLean, 1978); milieu teaching (Kaiser, Yoder, & Keetz, 1992); and the interactive model (Girolametto, Greenberg, & Manolson, 1986). …

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