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Approximately 15,711 Somali immigrants resettled in Minnesota in 2016 (Rush, 2016). According to the Rochester Post Bulletin, the Med City ranks fourth place in number of Somali immigrants, 333, behind Minneapolis at 3,450, St. Cloud at 1,393, and St. Paul at 960 (Post Bulletin, 2017). In a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health in 2008, the most common services needed by Somali families was first housing, followed by speech therapy second (Minnesota Department of Health, 2014). In a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health in 2008, the most common family or individual challenges associated with late identification of autism included lack of knowledge about autism, lack of knowledge about resources, and stigma (Minnesota Department of Health, 2014). There are currently no specific guidelines on how to best provide language assessment and intervention services for a refugee or immigrant population who is speaking a language for which there is no developmental information. In addition, there is no current research to determine what the language skills demonstrated by Somali refugee/immigrant children are a result of. Some of the leading influences include: deprivations in refugee camp, normal language interference when learning a second language, language acquisition, culture shock, mental health issues, familial conflict, poor nutrition and maternal health, differing views on health beliefs and practices or communication disorders such as Autism, or a combination of several of these.

This literature review brings together information from 9 impact areas to create a better understanding of overlapping impacts on Somalian children. For the purposes of this study, the term “children” refers to individuals under the age of 18 years old. The clinical implications of these findings help to build an inclusive assessment tool that documents all the factors that need to be taken into consideration in determining the need for language intervention in Somali refugee/immigrant school aged children. The RIOT, also known as review records, interview all involved parties, observe the child in several settings, and test the child, was created by Dr. Li-Rong Lilly Cheng. The RIOT is used to structure these findings. Dr. Cheng is a world-renowned Speech Language Pathologist whose area of expertise is multicultural/multilingual language assessment and intervention (Cheng, L.L., 2007). This research focuses on the linguistic and health impacts of learning a second language. The purpose of this research is to analyze the Somali population using the 9 impact areas discussed to explore the inter-relatedness of the Somali refugee and immigrant experience pertaining to navigating Speech-Language Pathology resources and therapy.


Advisor was Sonia Manuel-Dupont.