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Statement by ASHA President Shari Robertson on Immigrant Children's Living Conditions at Southern U.S. Border

June 28, 2019

(Rockville, MD) One year ago, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) called upon the Trump Administration to ensure that then recently separated immigrant families were reunited in timely fashion. Today, ASHA not only renews that call, but expands it to include urging an immediate end to the horrific living conditions immigrant children in the Administration's care now find themselves having to endure.

This unacceptable situation is potentially setting them up for lifetimes of struggle. Often, traumatized children require long-term comprehensive and sustained supports, including the treatment of resulting communication disorders, in order to successfully transition into adolescence and adulthood.

As ASHA noted last year, research shows the impact of trauma on communication such as the onset of selective mutism or acquired stuttering.* Back then, family separation was trauma enough—now it is being compounded by enforced living conditions barren of basics critical to children's overall welfare and development.

"As the president of an organization that represents thousands of professionals who work daily to foster the development of children in ways that are not only healthy but also their right, we find it abhorrent that any child would be caught in terrible situations like the one happening on the southern U.S. border," ASHA President Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP said. "It must end now, before any further or irreparable damage is done to innocent children."

*See Perez, H.R., & Stoeckle (2016). Stuttering: Clinical and research update. Canadian Family Physician, 62(6), 479–484, and Wong, P. (2010). Selective mutism: A review of etiology, comorbidities, and treatment. Psychiatry, 7(3), 23–31

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 204,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.

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