Serving young children with communication disabilities from Latinx backgrounds and their families with equity: Provider perspectives

Lauren M. Cycyk, Katie Coles, Kenneth O'Dea, Heather Moore, Hannah Sanford-Keller, Jill Dolata, Stephanie De Anda, Mauricio Gomez, Lidia Huerta, Alyssa Libak, Katharine E. Zuckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Latinx children with communication disorders from birth to age 5 and their families are increasingly served in United States (US) educational and medical settings where longstanding structural barriers threaten their access to equitable assessment and intervention. However, little is known about providers’ perceptions serving this highly diverse population as they relate to reducing disparities in care for communication disorders. Methods: This exploratory qualitative study interviewed 24 speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and early intervention (EI)/early childhood special education (ECSE) developmental specialists serving young Latinx children with communication disorders to offer targeted recommendations toward improving equity. The semi-structured interview included questions regarding communication assessment, diagnostics/eligibility, intervention, interpretation, translation, and solutions to enhance EI/ECSE. Interviews were coded with content analysis using elements of grounded theory, and responses from SLPs in medical versus education settings and from EI/ECSE developmental specialists were compared. Data triangulation was used to validate themes. Results: Analysis revealed the following themes related to provider challenges and resources: family factors, provider factors, cultural and linguistic differences, assessment approaches, eligibility determinations, translation and interpretation, and institutional factors. Few variations in themes between provider types (SLPs vs. EI/ECSE developmental specialists) and settings (medical vs. educational) were found. Providers also offered several policy and practice solutions. Conclusions: Findings suggest minimal advances in improving equity for young Latinx children with communication disorders over prior decades. Results also indicate that providers may benefit from reflecting on their cultures and biases as well as systemic racism within EI/ECSE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106254
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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