Kurdistan Kurdish researcher to help families of children with special needs

Kurdish researcher to help families of children with special needs
A disabled Ezidi child was discovered in a desert near Sinjar by Kurdish fighters. Paralysis meant he was unable to shield his eyes or move to a sheltered spot. He lost sight after staring at the sun for two days. (Photo: Archive)

LOS ANGELES, United States (Kurdistan24) – A Kurdish woman is studying the situation of families of students with disabilities to help create a more effective educational curriculum and apply the model in Kurdistan.

Soraya Fallah, a Kurdish activist who is undertaking her doctorate studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Northridge is studying the situation of culturally and linguistically diverse families in the US whose children require special care.

Her research was chosen for the 31st Annual CSU Student Research Competition.

The award is to “promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments."

Fallah told Kurdistan24 the low graduation rate of students with disabilities compared to their non-disabled counterparts inspired her to choose this topic.

She added that children with disabilities who come from the Middle East, North Africa, and southwest Asia and immigrate to the United States often find themselves at a double disadvantage.

“First, because they are ethnically and culturally different from the dominant group and speak languages other than English, they often experience hardships during the acculturation and socialization processes,” she explained.

“Second, children with special needs may have learning deficiencies, placing them at an additional disadvantage in educational contexts where administrators and teachers are not properly trained to meet their unique needs,” the researcher continued.

Despite linguistic and cultural disadvantages in addition to disabilities, statistics are not available, and Fallah hopes to fill the gap to help special educational personnel design effective family-school collaboration.

“The lack of research on this population in the context of disability highlights the lack of preparation of special education programs for serving this population with cultural sensitivity,” Fallah said.

In addition to physical and cultural disadvantages, such students could have also experienced war, displacement or other traumatic events.

They may also come from a family who views their disability as a stigma.

Fallah added that immigrants of Kurdish descent, like individuals from other nationalities, were raising students with disabilities.

There is currently no data regarding the presence of disabilities among the Kurdish population.

“I see a need to open this issue to break the stigma between members of the community,” she said.

Fallah concluded that quality primary education could pave the way for creating future innovators, leaders, and scientists.

“I would like to use the finding of this study to collaborate with universities in Kurdistan, to take the successful model based on study’s finding to that region,” Fallah said.

Fallah hopes to facilitate exchange and dialogue among education leaders in Kurdistan to improve the educational curriculum for students with special needs.

“I hope to help create quality global educational standards for primary education through the exchange between American institutions and academia in Kurdistan,” she concluded.

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Editing by Karzan Sulaivany