What I've learned from working in northern Indigenous communities
I travel to remote, fly-in only communities in northern Canada, and have had to adapt my assessment skills and goal planning immensely to be appropriate and culturally relevant to the children I serve.
Speech therapists are trained extensively on administering tests and analyzing how children are doing with their speech and language skills, but there are many cases where standardized tests should simply not be used.
These tests are often created for white, middle class American children. Using these tests for Indigenous or Autistic children is, evidently, not appropriate.
There are currently NO standardized tests that are normed for Indigenous children - which puts them at a disadvantage. Of course they will continue to score poorly on standardized tests when the content is NOT RELEVANT to them. These tests do not take into consideration geographical dialects, second language learning, or parts of language that may be more meaningful to these populations (e.g., oral story telling).
We also need to be aware that students carry generational trauma due to the residential schools’ practice of forced English language assimilation.
I am humbled to work as an SLP in northern communities, and my job is to listen and make suggestions where I am able. These suggestions are: to build on the children’s strengths, and invest in the inherent capacity within the community, so they can continue to help their students grow.
— Halle Demchuk, SLP
Paediatric SLP | GLP-Trained Clinician | Owner of HAEPI SLP
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