Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Reflections on Speech-Language Pathologists' Image as Advocates, Activists, and Aides

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Psychology in the Schools

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Traditionally speech‐language pathology, along with other educational and rehabilitation‐based professions, has approached disability from a deficits‐based or medical‐model perspective with an aim toward normalizing or ameliorating a child's atypical behaviors or performance. However, an alternative perspective rooted in a social model of disability has been growing for several decades. This model argues that although an individual may experience challenges due to a specific impairment (motor, communication, social), their true disability results from the barriers to access and opportunity created by society, and seeks to identify ways to break down such barriers and capitalize on an individual's strengths to meet individual challenges. Although self‐advocates in the disability community first proposed the social model of disability in the 1970s, it remains unfamiliar to many clinicians and educators. As such, this paper aims to introduce clinicians to models of disability, with recognition of disability from a cultural lens, and acknowledgment of disability's intersectionality with ethnicity, social class, and gender. The role of speech‐language pathologists in promoting self‐advocacy, activism within the disability community, and the shifting role of teaching (aid) is then discussed through a strengths‐based lens.



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