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ERIC Number: EJ745997
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
ISSN: ISSN-1096-2506
The Way of the Human Being: Supporting Alaska Native Families Who Have a Child with a Disability
Ryan, Susan; Murphy, Blanche; Harvey, Sandra; Nygren, Kristin; Kinavey, Erin; Ongtooguk, Paul
Young Exceptional Children, v9 n2 p12-19 2006
Alaska Native peoples refer to themselves and their way of life as the "way of the human being" (Napolean, 1991). This term, referred to as "Yuuyaraq" by the Yup'ik Eskimo, speaks to the value the Yup'ik and other Alaskan Natives place on being fully human. Within the context of the "way of the human life," how can early interventionists and educators best provide support to Alaska Native families and respect their rich heritage and way of life? To address this question a set of interviews with Alaska Native parents was conducted. Although the interviews highlight the perspectives of Alaska Native parents, many of the themes and examples are relevant to families from other ethnic and geographic areas. The wisdom of the Alaska Native parent may help early interventionists, paraprofessionals, and other discipline professionals to find new ways of approaching their work with families when providing supports and services cross-culturally. This article highlights the results of 10 informal interviews collected by the course instructor and students. Nine themes, or pieces of advice, emerged from the synthesis of the interviews: (1) take time to build relationships; (2) help families feel less isolated; (3) listen to families; (4) silence is OK; (5) speak slowly and clearly; (6) do not use acronyms; (7) move slowly and be patient; (8) always follow-up; and (9) ask parents if this is their "picture" of their child. The findings are reflective of recommended practices for working with families; yet, the importance of this new information is that it is reflective of Alaska Native families' interests and desires. Most importantly, the 10 families interviewed suggested that teachers take the time to build relationships and not expect them to develop overnight.
Division for Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children. 27 Fort Missoula Road, Suite 2, Missoula, MT 59804. Tel: 406-543-0872; Fax: 406-543-0887; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Alaska