The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Communication Sciences and Disorders: M.S.


Communication Sciences and Disorders


School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Theresa Estrem

Third Advisor

Emily Schultz

Keywords and Subject Headings

Autism Spectrum Disorders, Somali Community, Parent Perceptions, Children, Culture


Few studies have examined services for children with autism who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse (CLD), or parent perceptions of the appropriateness of those services. The purpose of this research was to gain a broader understanding of the values and perspectives of Somali parents of children with autism. One Somali parent of a child with autism was interviewed with the aid of a cultural mediator using survey style open-ended interview questions. The responses to the questions were transcribed and compared to extant research. Responses indicated that many mothers of children with autism, regardless of cultural, ethnic, or linguistic background, often express concurrent themes such as behavioral expectations, interactions with professionals, concern about vaccinations, and overall treatment decisions. The largest concern for the mother in this study was the cultural and linguistic barriers that often impeded communication with professionals from whom she sought help. The implications of these findings and speech-language pathologists' and audiologists' ability to assess and provide services for CLD children are discussed.


At this time I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to those who helped me throughout the process of completing my thesis.

I would like to extend my gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. Theresa Estrem, for her encouragement and support, as well as her expertise in research. I would also like to acknowledge the moral support I received from my follow graduate students.

In addition, I could not have completed this research without my contacts within the Somali communities. Huda Farrah, a parent activist, guided me in my interactions with the Somali people. Sirad Shirdon, a communication disorders graduate student in New York, helped translate documents. My interpreter, Anisa Abdille, was a great support and a source of information on culturally sensitive practice. Lastly, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the Somali mother who was willing to share her experiences with me. This project would not have happened without her!

On a more personal note, I would like to thank my fiance, Michael Smith, as well as my family, friends, and colleagues for their support, guidance, and encouragement.