Cultural Competence or Stereotyping? I am writing regarding the November feature on cultural competence. It is my opinion that ASHA promotes cultural awareness to (1) assist clinicians in treatment, and (2) politically advocate for minorities. I submit that ASHA should guard against the inadvertent promotion of stereotyping due to its overemphasis on cultural awareness. ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   November 01, 2011
Cultural Competence or Stereotyping?
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Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / Inbox
Inbox   |   November 01, 2011
Cultural Competence or Stereotyping?
The ASHA Leader, November 2011, Vol. 16, 2-38. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.16152011.2
The ASHA Leader, November 2011, Vol. 16, 2-38. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.16152011.2
I am writing regarding the November feature on cultural competence. It is my opinion that ASHA promotes cultural awareness to (1) assist clinicians in treatment, and (2) politically advocate for minorities. I submit that ASHA should guard against the inadvertent promotion of stereotyping due to its overemphasis on cultural awareness.
It is important to understand that different cultures have diverse speech patterns that affect the communication process. Cultural customs are also common. However, a clinician should not allow knowledge of cultural customs to lead them to stereotypical conclusions.
Science tells us that in normally functioning human beings, electrical impulses interact with our brains along similar structures, regardless of race or culture. In the depths of our conscious being we are all essentially the same. For most of us, it is what enters that consciousness that makes each of us different. Even people of the same culture have a very different bank of experiences. For example, one family-oriented Mexican-American mother might not want to focus on teaching independence to her young daughter with disabilities; another Mexican-American mother could disagree.
You must listen to the personal needs of the client and family and not rely only on your cultural knowledge or you are stereotyping. Competence is more a function of a client’s personal experience than it is a function of cultural awareness. The best competence goes far beyond the understanding of cultural customs and into the realm of personal needs of our clients. If you ask what they want, they often will tell you.
Paul Anthony Imbert Buffalo, New York
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November 2011
Volume 16, Issue 15