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ERIC Number: ED568187
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 204
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-3545-2
Many Voices at the Table: Collaboration between Families and Teachers of Somali Students with Autism
Baker, Diana
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston College
Family member-educator collaboration is envisioned as the "cornerstone" of the educational decision-making process for students with disabilities (e.g., Harry, 2008; Olivos, Friend & Cook, 2007, Gallagher & Aguilar, 2010). In the case of immigrant and refugee families, however, the ideal of coequal collaboration is often elusive for a variety of reasons (e.g., language barriers, disparate ideas about what familial involvement should be in educational decisions) (e.g., Lo, 2012). This qualitative multiple case study design (Yin, 2009) relied on interviews with family members and educators as well as observations of IEP meetings to examine the educational decision-making process in the context of Somali-American families of boys with autism. Findings from the present study echo many conclusions of previous research in terms of factors that facilitate (e.g., thoughtfully designed IEP meetings, frequent family-educator communication) and impede (e.g., divergent beliefs about the cause and course of autism, language barriers) family-educator collaboration in special education decision-making. The results, meanwhile, extended and challenged other aspects of existing literature. Analysis revealed, for example, the each school has a unique institutional culture whose norms (e.g., norms of parent participation in school activities, from dances and races to PTA meetings and in-class volunteering) can profoundly influence the ways in which family members and educators interact and engage in educational decision-making. In addition, while existing literature emphasizes the importance of cultural sensitivity among special educators (e.g., Harry, 1992; Lo, 2013), the present study suggests that in some cases, over-emphasis on cultural sensitivity can cause educators to be overly deferential and reluctant to actively engage with family members, in turn, leading to diminished or inauthentic communication. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Somalia