Suma Suswaram

Speech Language Pathology (University of Kansas)

Background: Worked as a senior research fellow at St. John’s National Institute of Health Sciences (SJNIHS), Bangalore, Karnataka, India working with a team to profile language, psychiatric and neuro-psychological characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Working at SJNIHS helped me find my area of interest within the ASD topic.

Current Interests:Working with minimally verbal children from minority and diverse cultural and linguistic background, more specifically looking at the need for development and/or adaptation assessment tools for these population.

Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nancy Brady

Presentation Topic: Importance of Understanding Cultural Difference in Communication within Minimally Verbal Children.  My topic will broadly cover the gap in understanding cultural differences regardless of linguistic difference in nonverbal communication. I will compare literature from African American, European American and Indian literature to highlight the differences.

Research Challenges:

1. Getting acceptance to recruit participant from marginalized and minority communities (building trust will take a long time)
2. Understanding both majority and minority language behaviors and expectations will consume time and funding (e.g. conducting ethnography research is time consuming)



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