Study shows obstacles in Hmong and Mien getting aid for mentally disabled children

Researchers at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California, Davis (UC Davis) explored the relationship between Hmong and Mein communities and the lack of knowledge within each community about how to pursue services for their developmentally disabled children. The study focused on the Hmong and Mien populations in Central Valley, an area of Sacramento, Calif.

For this study, entitled “Understanding Developmental Disabilities in Families of Southeast Asian Origin,” UC Davis partnered with local groups, including the Hmong Women’s Heritage Association and the United Iu-Mien Community, to interview representatives from the communities. These representatives were Hmong and Mien Asian American individuals with mentally/physically impaired children.

Dian Baker, a postdoctoral scholar at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, stated, “These families care very deeply about their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help them. It’s that they don’t know what to do.” Nearly 17 percent of all children in the United States have developmental disabilities, and nearly four million Americans have a developmental disorder.

Researchers identified a variety of cultural and sociological reasons why they believe Hmong and Mien families utilize fewer special education and social services for their children. Researchers found the predominant reason to be the cultural perception that reliance on governmental support services is not appropriate. Having a family member with a developmental disability is a personal responsibility. Along with these results, researchers found language barriers to be among the other reasons for their lack of outreach for health care or educational services.

Now, UC Davis collaborators in association with their community partners will develop a public service campaign aimed at helping South East Asian communities in hopes of increasing awareness and the use of services that are available for their children. ♦

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