Sociocultural influences: Evaluations of indigenous children for special needs in rural Central Mexico
This study examined indigenous infants, children, and youth in rural central Mexico for developmental delays by using a mixed methods approach. A two-person team consisting of a researcher and a translator completed this study. They conducted observations of 665 minors and interviews with their caregivers. A self-designed rubric was the guide to evaluate children using standards previously researched, developed and tested during the researcher’s employment as director of a bilingual school in the United States (USA). This tool was used to evaluate the children, ninety-five percent of which were of Mexican heritage. The tool was modified to meet the needs of indigenous participants within this study in Central Mexico. This study found that the identification of developmental delays or special needs using traditional assessments might fail to take into account sociocultural factors (Baez, 2002; Cattey, 1980; Kelly, Sacker, Schoon, and Nazroo, 2006; Ogbu, 1992b; Rogoff, 2003) present in indigenous rural Mexican farm or ranch communities (‘ campos’). Data suggested that Native Indian or indigenous (‘ campesino’) parents or other caregivers struggle with self-esteem issues related to class status thus failing to advocate for themselves or their children. Data additionally implied that caregivers lack access to social services including those aimed at working with developmental delays, special needs, (Fletcher, 1999; Forlin, Cedillo, Romero-Contreras, Fletcher, and Rodriguez, in press) and children without disabilities. Cultural factors maintained the status quo: the upper class held power, the middle class struggled, and the ‘campesino’ continued to lose vital assets necessary to meet basic human needs. The findings identified a disproportionate number of developmentally delayed children, mainly due to malnutrition or other environmental influences; resulting from class status and/or lack of access to information. ‘Campesino’ participants from in eighteen rural Central Mexican facilities were studied. Participants represented over one hundred ‘campos.’ This study utilized an emic ethnographic approach (researcher being an “insider” researcher-participant) employing both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Results indicated that factors related to social status affected rural Mexican children's ability to acquire the basic nutritional intake necessary to achieve academic success and/or social elevation in Mexico or elsewhere due to the caregivers limited ability to improve the quality of life for his/her ‘ campesino’ children.
Native children & youth;
0282: Bilingual education
0529: Special education