Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

The recent shootings of Asian Americans and whether these will be considered hate crimes, tornadoes ravaging the Southwest and elsewhere, and fears of uncertain variants of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the news during the writing of this piece. Crises, unfortunately, are not new to us. As educators, along with feeling deeply troubled by these, we have had a tendency to focus on what we perceive is missing or lacking in the lives of our students and their families.

When it comes to multilingual, multicultural students, we often find ourselves and others using deficit-based statements that describe what we perceive, such as “they don’t know English and their parents don’t know how to help their children learn.” This deficit-based lens can unfortunately contribute to predictable odds of failure for historically marginalized students, especially during the many crises that we have encountered and will encounter in the future. However, more and more researchers, practitioners, and scholars are finding that when we focus our attention on what we perceive to be weaknesses or broken elements in the lives of our students, we fail to see the inherent strengths and assets that they bring to our schools and classrooms. Further, if we use that lens often enough, we begin to default to it as our modus operandi rather than focusing our attention where we should: on identifying, cultivating, and building on students’ existing and developing assets.

Research points to the essential relationship between identifying and acknowledging students’ personal, social-emotional, cultural, and academic assets and their academic and social-emotional growth and success (Biswas-Diener, Kashdan, and Gurpal, 2011). Similarly, using and applying the same assets-based lens to our students and their families enables us to form more effective and lasting partnerships with them. One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises has been the manner in which educators responded with a renewed sense of purpose around partnering with and caring for multilingual, multicultural families.

Many of the educators with whom we work ask us how they can be more supportive and involved with families during crises. And, just as importantly, they also ask how they can work more closely with their local communities and beyond to provide comprehensive supports for students and families. In this piece, let’s explore how we can overcome inequities by building from the strengths and assets of each of our unique communities (including our students and families as well as the individuals, organizations, agencies, and institutions that make up our local communities). Begin with an Assets-Based Approach

We see crises, whatever they might be and wherever they might occur, as fueling our restart of what can be and is being done to band together. Indeed, if we really think about crises, we quickly realize that we are not silos unto ourselves. Our students and their families as well as members of our local, school, and classroom communities are all interrelated, interconnected, and even interdependent on one another. Further, when we take time to consider the possibilities of these overlapping ecosystems, we can truly support students to flourish.

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New figures for autism prevalence in China point to previous neglect

New figures for autism prevalence in China point to previous neglect

About 1 in every 100 children in China has autism, a prevalence on par with that in the United Kingdom and somewhat shy of that in the United States , according to a new study 1 . The findings suggest that autism is more common in China than previously thought.

Autism was not recognized in China until 1982. Awareness has improved since, but many parents and doctors overlook autism traits such as speech delays because of a cultural belief that bright children speak late, says lead researcher Sophia Xiang Sun, a psychologist at the Star Kay Bridge Research Centre for Children with Autism in Xiamen, China.

Previous prevalence estimates accounted only for children with severe autism, who tend to be enrolled in special-education schools. “People didn’t take autism seriously,” Sun says.

Millions of autistic children in China go without needed services, behavioral therapy and educational support. The new numbers may help clinicians identify and care for them.

“This study serves as a solid guide for further research and evidence-based conversations at the policy level in China,” says Andy Shih , senior vice president of public health and inclusion at Autism Speaks, who was not involved in the work. Screening students :

Sun’s team screened children aged 6 to 10 for autism in three cities: Jilin and Jiamusi in the north, and Shenzhen in the south. They distributed a Mandarin version of the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST) to teachers to send home with their students. The parent questionnaire probes autism traits such as repetitive behaviors and the ability to hold a conversation.

Clinicians evaluated children with high CAST scores for autism. They also assessed 5 percent of children with ‘borderline’ scores (selected at random) and some of those with a low score, if school psychologists had concerns about them.

In Jilin, the researchers screened 7,258 children and invited 592 for clinical evaluation (524 from mainstream schools; 68 from special-education schools and intervention centers). They diagnosed 77 children with autism, a prevalence of slightly more than 1 percent.

In Jiamusi and Shenzen, the researchers surveyed only mainstream schools — and saw far lower numbers. In Jiamusi, they identified autism in 10 of 16,358 children. They calculated a prevalence of 0.2 percent after adjusting for the families who did not respond to the assessment invitation; in Shenzhen, they diagnosed 35 of 21,420 children, an adjusted prevalence of about 0.4 percent. The results appeared in February in Molecular Autism . Regional differences :

The numbers probably reflect regional differences in autism awareness and in clinicians’ familiarity with condition, as well as uneven rates of autistic children in mainstream schools, Sun says. The researchers used figures from Jilin to represent China as a whole.

“China has a large population, […]

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Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Although the US has made progress in raising awareness of mental health and normalizing conversations about the topic, a great deal of stigma remains around mental illness and poor mental health, and many still face barriers to accessing services and supports.

Among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these issues are often shrouded by silence and shame, allowing misconceptions and minimization of mental health concerns to thrive.

But AAPIs are not a monolith . Our understanding of their mental health needs—and how we respond—should reflect the diversity of experiences within the AAPI community . Here’s what you should know about this important topic and underserved population this Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month . AAPIs are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to report mental health issues and to seek mental health services

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, AAPI adults report serious psychological distress at about half the rate of the US average —but there is wide variation between AAPI ethnic subgroups. Vietnamese Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders report poor mental health at rates closer to the US average than to their AAPI counterparts.

There are also notable differences in mental health across immigration-related factors . Second-generation AAPIs were almost twice as likely to report a mental health disorder in the past year than first-generation immigrants. But even after controlling for prevalence of mental illness, AAPI adults seek mental health services less than any other group. They are almost three times less likely than white adults to seek mental health services for unmet needs. A 2015 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study found AAPIs were more likely than people of other racial or ethnic identities to cite “low perceived need,” “structural barriers,” and “not thinking services would help” as reasons for not using mental health services. AAPIs face cultural and structural barriers to accessing mental health services

Although there are deep-rooted systemic challenges with the American mental health care system as a whole—such as inadequate funding and support, uneven geographic distribution of services, and fragmented and uncoordinated service providers— certain cultural and structural barriers also affect service provision and quality of care for AAPI communities more specifically.

Culturally specific attitudes among AAPIs that stigmatize help-seeking include the following: The model minority myth. The assumption that all AAPIs experience educational success and economic stability can place immense pressure on people to meet these societal and familial expectations, often at the cost of their mental well-being.

Generational experiences of hardship. Many first-generation AAPIs experienced trauma as immigrants or refugees adapting to life in a foreign land. As a result, younger generations often feel guilty about sharing their mental health […]

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Opinion: Overcoming stigma as an Asian American with ADHD

Overcoming stigma as an Asian American with ADHD

In many Asian American families, a good education and success in school is prioritized above all else. According to Eurekalert, a science news website, this high academic pressure stems from Asian cultures believing that academic success is the only way to climb up the economic ladder.

This strict viewpoint is imposed upon Asian American high school students with immigrant parents, and many of these students struggle with this pressure.

Meeting such academic standards is even more challenging for learning disabled Asian American children. And I am one of them.

As a Chinese student diagnosed with ADHD and ADD, it is extremely hard to cope with the fact you have a learning disorder. Some people in my Asian community did not acknowledge my learning disabilities, as traditional Chinese people look down upon learning disabilities.

ADHD, ADD, and other learning disabilities are considered shameful in the Chinese community. People who dismissed my ADHD and ADD just assumed I was “not smart,” and that was a “fault” of my parents. For many, there is no such thing as ADHD and ADD — they believe this is just a cover-up for laziness.

In an article from Understood, a website devoted to educating the public about learning disabilities, Professor Manju Banerjee states that Asian American parents believe that their child’s learning disability is a result of bad parenting. Therefore, these parents do not feel comfortable revealing data or information on their child’s learning struggles.

Thus, there is a scarcity of literature investigating ADHD among Asian Americans, but it’s not because ADHD affects fewer Asian students. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the lack of data on Asian learning disabled children could be due to the fact that fewer Asian families report their children as learning disabled, due to the stigma.

Because of the stigma of ADHD, my ADHD was not even recognized until I was in middle school. I began falling behind in my classes because I was unable to complete my work or focus for at least 30 minutes. However, none of my teachers or counselors believed I had ADHD because I still managed to keep up good grades. And I think it was also rare for them to see an Asian student with ADHD, so I believe this is why my learning disabilities were so often ignored.

Teachers were unaware of all my sleepless nights and hours of frustration trying to keep up with my peers, who did not have ADHD and ADD. I felt like I was running a race with a weight tied to my ankle. On top of that, no one made me feel like my ADHD was valid, and I constantly blamed myself for not being able to perform like everyone else.

However, over the years, I have learned to accept my ADHD. I accepted the fact that although it does not define me, it is a part of me, and I have developed ways to cope with it. I am able to achieve success, despite my ADHD. Finally, I no longer feel ashamed of having it.

I want to use this opportunity to break the stereotype of Asians not having learning disabilities. It is so uncommon to hear about an Asian with a learning disability because it is stigmatized so heavily in the Asian community. Many Asian parents feel that their child’s inability to learn is their fault, and do not talk about it or try to hide it because it is so shameful.

“As Long as They Let Us Stay in Class”

“As Long as They Let Us Stay in Class”

Barriers to Education for Persons with Disabilities in China

The mother of Chen Yufei tried hard to find a school for her son, a nine-year-old boy with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and an intellectual disability. When Chen was 7 she brought him to a nearby school, but the principal would not let him enroll because he would “affect other children.” Reluctant, Chen’s mother turned to special education schools, but she could not find one: the district in which they live did not have one. Eventually she got Chen accepted in a special education school in another district — after two years and a hefty bribe. She still bitterly resents this experience, as she believes her son would make much better progress if he were in a mainstream school.

Across China, children and young people with disabilities confront discrimination in schools. This report documents how mainstream schools deny many such children admission, ask them to leave, or fail to provide appropriate classroom accommodations to help them overcome barriers related to their disabilities. While children with mild disabilities are in mainstream schools where they continue to face challenges, children with more serious disabilities are excluded from the mainstream education system, and a significant number of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch receive no education at all.

Internationally, there is a growing recognition that “inclusion” — making mainstream education accessible for children with disabilities — is a key element in realizing the right to education. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the most recent international human rights treaty, mandates that state parties “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”

By ratifying the CRPD in 2008, the Chinese government made a commitment to “the goal of full inclusion.” Yet it has no clear and consistent strategy to achieve that goal. It continues to devote too few resources to the education of students with disabilities in mainstream schools while at the same time actively developing a parallel system of segregated special education schools. Inclusive education is not just a legal obligation, and it benefits not only students with disabilities — a system that meets the diverse needs of all students benefits all learners and is a means to achieve high-quality education and more inclusive society. While an inclusive education system cannot be achieved overnight, the Chinese government’s current policies and practices […]

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