A monolingual speech-language pathologist recently reached out to ASHA’s Asian Indian Caucus (AIC) for a Tamil-speaking SLP to provide services for a 70-year-old elderly New Jersey man. The patient had expressive aphasia due to a recent stroke.
The AIC community—through its active listserve—immediately located a bilingual SLP who spoke English and Tamil. The SLP worked with the client’s local SLP to help him receive linguistically and culturally appropriate services.
We are just one of six multicultural constituency groups, which you can learn more about in this series:
In another instance, a 35-year-old female vocalist— referred to the AIC by a laryngologist in California—was seeking consultation from an SLP with knowledge of Indian Hindustani classical vocal music. Once again, our network of members quickly found a SLP specializing in this highly specialized area and helped initiate services via telepractice.
These two scenarios provide a glimpse into the variety of ways AIC serves clients of Asian Indian origin with communication disorders.
Who are Asian Indians?
Asian Indians, commonly referred to as South Asians, trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent, including—but not limited to—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka. They represent the second largest immigrant community in the United States, according to the 2010 Census. They also represent a group with significant diversity in their language, religion and culture. In fact, they speak more than 20 languages, such as Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Asian Indian English.
What is the Asian Indian Caucus?
The Asian Indian Caucus is one of the six multicultural constituency groups of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. AIC was formed in 1994 at the ASHA Convention in New Orleans, as a forum for individuals of Asian Indian origin to address the professional, clinical and educational needs in the field of communication disorders. Founding members were Ravi Nigam, Bopanna Ballachanda, Amit Bajaj and Rajinder Koul. Currently more than 350 members and affiliates make up the AIC. Not restricted to professionals of Asian Indian origin, membership remains open to any CSD professional interested in addressing communication needs of Asian Indian clients.
What is AIC’s mission?
AIC members serve as resources to meet the needs of clients of Asian Indian origin and also provide a forum for interactions and collaboration among clinicians, students and researchers of Asian Indian origin. AIC also helps improve cultural competency among ASHA-certified professionals regarding Asian Indians.
What are AIC’s ongoing contributions?
AIC maintains an active and resource-filled website, provides mentoring to students and young professionals, builds networks in academic and clinical settings, and recently began providing scholarships to presenters at the ASHA Convention discussing topics related to Asian Indian service delivery.
AIC also publishes an annual newsletter called Asha Kiran addressing current trends in research and service delivery relating to Asian Indian clients. The newsletter provides a platform for clinicians and researchers to interact through interviews, clinical insights and research discussions.
In addition, the AIC collaborates with related organizations. Currently, we’re co-sponsoring a survey with the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Caucus aimed at better understanding Asian and Pacific Islander professionals and students. AIC also recently embarked on a clinical project with members of the Indian Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Aphasia Expert Working Group from India to build a repository of resource materials in Asian Indian languages.
We encourage members to support this initiative and assist in completing this survey.
Akila Rajappa, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, is a PhD candidate in communication sciences and disorders, department of biobehavioral sciences at Columbia University Teachers College, New York, and president of the Asian Indian Caucus. firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing writers: Yasmeen Faroqi Shah, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor, University of Maryland, College Park; Arun Biran, regional director, Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions, Wilmington, Delaware, former AIC president; Prabhu Eswaran, MS, CCC-SLP, school-based SLP, Los Angeles, AIC’s vice-president of public relations; Ranjini Mohan, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor, Department of Communication Disorders, Texas State University, San Marcos, AIC’s vice-president of professional development; Saradha Ananthakrishnan, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, Department of Audiology, Speech Language Pathology and Deaf Studies, Towson University, Maryland, AIC’s chief editor; Sharmila Biran, MS, CCC-SLP, school-based SLP, Atlanta, AIC’s associate editor; Priya Sudarsanam, MS, CCC-SLP, executive director and co-owner, Avenues Early Childhood Inc., Gallup, New Mexico, AIC’s secreatary.