Native American Heritage Awareness Month
with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Hilleary (2020) – “She didn’t walk until she was 18 months old,” said Native American Korryl High Bear. “Then as she started getting older, she didn’t talk. She was so sensitive to sounds and emotions.” High Bear turned to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Birth to Five Program, in Eagle Butte. “They gave my daughter therapy three times a week. After a year, they sent us to the University of South Dakota, about 6 hours away, for a two-day appointment. The program paid for mileage and lodging.”
Shoemaker, the program director, explained that the Bureau of Indian Education is an ‘arm’ of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, which provides the program funds. Cautioning that the tribal leaders have discretion on how those funds are used. Continuing that the reservation is big and there are lots of kids with autism that they don’t know about.
Scott (2020) says, “In Navajo, there’s no word for ‘autism’ or ‘disability’. Many elders didn’t understand what we were talking about. They didn’t necessarily see the signs of autism as something to be concerned about. Much of this is due to a lack of autism awareness,” said this Western Washington University autism expert. For several years, he worked with the University of New Mexico’s Center for Development and Disability, evaluating children on several Native American reservations.
Indian Health Services (IHS) Staff Writer (2020) shares that parents and teachers may confuse autism with other conditions; or, chalk up behaviors to disobedience. And, even when Indian children are finally diagnosed with autism, they don’t always get the help they are entitled to receive.
< My Thoughts > “…chalk up behaviors to disobedience.”
Outsiders only see a ‘bad kid’ or ‘bad parenting’, or both. But in the case of a child with autism, the behavior is not him/her giving you a bad time; they are having a bad time.
In the article by Steven K. Kapp (2011), he quotes several authors who view autism as a difference on the spectrum of human diversity, rather than a “disease”. Thus, seeing the beauty of harmony, addressing the practical needs of adults to build skills and achieve a high quality of life. Saying that this can include self-presentation skills in role-playing by applying additional effort to manage their social public challenges and to help avoid discrimination.
Kapp continues ~ the Navajos appear to achieve success with full inclusion, striking a balance in life between abilities and disabilities. Autistic people walk in beauty and are fully accepted as participating members of society, while Western Autistic people often face rejection. The United Navajo, cross-cultural analysis suggests the need to invest in raising Autistic people’s adaptive skills and quality of life. Also, to make social changes, beginning in the schools. Changes, through training teachers and staff about intercultural commonalities and differences.
Differences, which transcend possible exclusion, are brought by multiculturalism and special education. By passing on this adaptive education to all students, throughout the school curriculum and culture they make a difference.
Indian Health Services (IHS) Staff Writer tells us that help is available to Native Americans through the mission of the Indian Health Service (IHS). The TeleBehavioral Health Center of Excellence (TBHCE) Indian Children’s Program is committed to equip healthcare providers working in the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribal, and Urban Indian Health System with the training and education needed to provide excellent care for American Indian/Alaska Native youth.
This program utilizes tele-education, otherwise known as distance learning, to deliver training, education, and virtual consultation services to IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian Health system (I/T/U) healthcare providers. The following training, education, and consultation on the following topics related to American Indian/Alaska Native youth allow for –
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Communication Disorders
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Learning Disorders
- Motor Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The specific services the TBHCE Indian Children’s Program Provide are –
- Training: Allows I/T/U providers to access upcoming webinars, past webinars, and on-demand trainings related to ICP topics.
- Provider Consultation Clinic: Allows I/T/U providers to seek expert assistance and clinical guidance from healthcare professionals who specialize in ASD, FASD, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
You are invited to visit the TBHCE website to see the current training opportunities: https://www.ihs.gov/teleeducation/. Studies show that the sooner a child with autism gets services, the greater the chance for learning.
Hilleary, C. (2020). Helping Native American Children with Autism Poses Challenges for Schools; Retrieved online from – https://www.ihs.gov/icp/
Indian Health Service (IHS) Staff Writer (2020). Autism & the Indian Health Service; Retrieved online from – https://www.ihs.gov/icp/
Indian Health Service (HIS) Staff Writer (2023). Visions, Goals, & Missions. Information retrieved online from: Indian Health Service (IHS) website. https://www.ihs.gov/crownpoint/mission-goals-vision-commitment/
Kapp, S. K. (2011). Navajo and Autism: The Beauty of Harmony. Retrieved online from: https://pure.port.ac.uk/ws/files/16768550/Navajo_and_Autism.pdf
Scott, F. (2020). Helping Native American Children with Autism; Retrieved online from –https://www.voanews.com/a/usa_helping-native-american-children-autism-poses-challenges-schools/6184254.html