One of the challenges we can face as BCBAs is a difference in culture between us and the families we work with. We can also sometimes encounter language barriers. Ashley Cabral is a BCBA from Massachusetts who works at an in-home agency, primarily with Portuguese-speaking clients. As a bilingual BCBA, she’s able to help her families navigate through a new diagnosis in the language they know best.
The biggest gap when working with culturally diverse clients is access to information. Much of the material on autism and developmental disabilities is written in English, so it’s important for BCBAs to put themselves in their client’s shoes. Ashley spends a lot of her time translating information into her families’ native language.
Even if a BCBA only speaks English, families always appreciate when you can be a human first. Having a genuine interest in your client’s culture, being sensitive to their norms and traditions, and making sure parents are present to observe in sessions with their children are all ways to help bridge the communication gap. Working in a client’s home is the best way to really absorb their culture, and families feel more empowered when you can truly connect with them.
- How to help clients navigate information when English isn’t their native language.
- Ways to connect with your clients if you don’t speak their language.
- Why making an effort to understand culture makes a big impact.