I have worked in a wide variety of settings and context throughout Chicagoland over the course of my last 4 years of training in a doctoral program in clinical psychology. I have worked in private practices in the upper-middle class communities in the Northwest suburbs, as well as community settings and hospitals in some of the underserved and marginalized neighborhoods on the southside of Chicago.
Whether this be Mandarin, Polish, Farsi, Arabic, French or any other language for that matter, there are not enough accessible resources for families whose predominant language is not English. Navigating “the system” is hard enough for English speakers, but if you add the language component to the mix, it becomes all the more difficult to access care. With the ever-mounting barriers, many families and their children end up not receiving access to resources simply because there are not enough translation services or multilingual providers available. This often results in exacerbated developmental delays that very well could have been addressed, had the services been available in the desired language of care.
As a bilingual psychologist in training, I have specifically noticed the ever-growing demand and need for services for the Latin-x, Spanish-speaking community. In all of the settings I have trained in, the wait-list for the Spanish speaking patients is always nearly TWICE that of those who are English speaking. Further, many Spanish speaking Latin-X families get dragged back and forth between different settings without ever actually receiving the care and services they are seeking because of miscommunication with providers.
For this reason, I was extremely encouraged to hear about the work that Grupo Salto is doing here in Chicago. I was first exposed to this group through my experience as a LEND trainee. This group “… was founded by Latino parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and Hispanic program staff from the UIC Developmental Disabilities Family Clinics (DDFC) in 2003.” “Grupo SALTO aims to provide support for Latino families that have children with ASD by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate training, education, and services (LEND Brief, 2015).”
I had the opportunity to attend a Grupo SALTO screening event and conduct Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screenings one morning. Through this experience, I got to speak with some of the parents who are involved in this group. It was absolutely amazing to hear about their individual experiences with Grupo SALTO, as well as their passion for advocacy and empowerment of other Latin-x parents who had children with ASD. This group is providing an amazing and greatly needed space and sense of community to a community that is often overlooked and marginalized by the larger systems.
By Vanessa Aguilera