This book is for all neuropsychologists who are called upon to assess culturally different clients: With very few exceptions, this means every neuropsychologist. Throughout the Western world there are migrant and refugee minorities whose home language and culture differ from those of the host country. Many suburbs and workplaces in Western countries, far from being culturally and linguistically homogenous, are more like a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. While I was writing this preface, a colleague in Minnesota told me that over the past few years he has assessed clients from Egypt, Algeria, Liberia, Iraq, and Iran, as well as Hmong people from Laos and elderly Russian Jews. A few years ago, he continued, this American heartland was so culturally homogenous that cross-cultural assessment was not an issue.
Today, not only in Minnesota but throughout the Western world, migration raises assessment and test validity problems that cannot be ignored. In the southern hemisphere, these problems are pervasive and demand a solution even more imperatively. But it is not only migration that makes cross-cultural skills imperative.
In the West, it seems quite obvious that the problems arising from cultural difference do not relate to native-born ethnic minorities whose first language is the majority language and who are educated in the mainstream schooling system. Thus, at first glance, America's Irish, Jews, and African Americans are Western. But, at second glance, what of the tight-knit community of Yiddish-speaking Hassidic Jews in Crown Heights, NY? And, why do some apparently mainstream groups in the United States score significantly lower than the mean on standard IQ tests?