Clinical Issues: Diversity and Autism “Diversity” is a relative term, used to describe variations around some accepted standard. In speech-language pathology and related professions, the term “diversity” is often used to describe variations in race, ethnicity, socio-economic environments, culture, or language compared to “mainstream” or majority standards. Implicit mainstream standards in the United States are ... Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues  |   July 01, 2005
Clinical Issues: Diversity and Autism
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joan Cromwell
    Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis
  • Erik Belgum
    Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis
  • Kathryn Kohnert
    Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues   |   July 01, 2005
Clinical Issues: Diversity and Autism
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, July 2005, Vol. 12, 2-6. doi:10.1044/lle12.2.2
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, July 2005, Vol. 12, 2-6. doi:10.1044/lle12.2.2
“Diversity” is a relative term, used to describe variations around some accepted standard. In speech-language pathology and related professions, the term “diversity” is often used to describe variations in race, ethnicity, socio-economic environments, culture, or language compared to “mainstream” or majority standards. Implicit mainstream standards in the United States are White, middle-to-professional class, educated monolingual speakers of a standard dialect of English. For better or worse, implicit mainstream standards are used as the basis for describing all other groups; exceptions to mainstream standards are described as “different” or “diverse” (Kohnert, Kennedy, Glaze, Kan, & Carney, 2003).
The application of mainstream standards for identifying, describing, or treating communication disorders in culturally, racially, or linguistically diverse populations must be critically examined. In this article, we focus on cultural and racial differences relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of children with autism in the U.S. We first summarize available findings regarding the rates and ages of identification of autism across diverse populations. We then present a series of issues identified by Daley (2002)  that may serve as a starting point for increasing awareness and understanding of autism within the cultural context of the affected child.
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