Center for Teaching and Learning

Middle Eastern-North African-Southwest Asian Family Experiences with Special Education

The graduation rate of students enrolled in special education services is lower than nondisabled students. Students with disabilities from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds, in particular, are falling significantly behind their non-disabled peers in the majority population. In order to close the achievement gap, administrators and teachers need appropriate training focused on how to best serve the unique needs of CLD students with disabilities. Research on the characteristics and experiences of diverse families provide special education personnel the understanding of a family's cultural framework that is necessary to build effective family-school partnerships.

Unfortunately, there is currently very little understanding and research literature on some populations. Our current research efforts address the need to develop special education programs meeting the needs of families from the Middle East, North Africa, andSouthwest Asia (MENASWA) with children who have been identified with disabilities. Research on MENASWA students with disabilities have previously been overlooked or difficult to conduct, partially as a result of racial/ethnic classifications that lack an appropriate choice for this distinct population.

Our study aims to find accurate demographic data about MENASWA families with children who are part of special education programs in the United States. The quantitative study also seeks to gain insight about their experiences, determine significant correlations to relevant demographic factors, and identify which strategies for serving students with disabilities are the most helpful as perceived by MENASWA families.






Fallah, S., & Murawski, W. W. (2018). Challenges and Strategies for Establishing Strong Partnerships: Special Education and CLD Families. In K. Norris, & S. Collier (Eds.), Social Justice and Parent Partnerships in Multicultural Education Contexts (pp. 65-83). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. 




Epstein, J.L., Sanders, M.G., B. S., Salinas, K.C., & Jansorn, N.R. (2002). School, Family and Community partnerships: Your Handbook for Action (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin




Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). The Bioecological Theory of Human Development. In U.




Davis, L.J. (1995). Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness and the Body. London: Verso.



Link to Study

Families of Children with Special Needs Survey

Research Study on Middle Eastern-North African-Southwest Asian



See our flyer (.pdf)

For more information about the study, Experiences of MENASWA Families of Children w/ Disabilities in the US Special Ed System, please contact Soraya Fallah at  or Faculty Advisor Dr. Wendy Murawski,

Tel: +1 (818) 677 7037 Email: