Christina Cortez, Psy.D., is a 2020 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Christina Cortez

Dissertation Committee

Allen Bishop, PhD, Chairperson

Angela DeVita, LMFT, PhD, Committee Member

Amber Walz, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D, ABSNP, External Expert


Mexican immigrant parents of children with disabilities, Latino, Hispanics, special education, multicultural education, culturally sensitive care, cultural development of teachers and paraprofessionals, acculturation, assimilation, phenomenological, qualitative

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A nurturing and engaging environment within the family often leads to enhanced student performance. Nonetheless, the education system continues to struggle to connect with families from racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse groups, particularly parents with limited English proficiency or those who have children in special education programs. Amplified difficulties may arise because children with identified special needs—such as physical impairments, learning deficiencies, or developmental disabilities—require additional support, interventions, parental support, and/or services. As the nation attempts to mainstream children in public education and provide them support, Mexican immigrant families in many cases remain underrepresented, or they fall into greater risk due to financial instability, poor communication, and cultural barriers. This qualitative research utilizes a phenomenological approach to explore the experiences of Mexican immigrant families who have identified special needs children; specifically, the study seeks to draw out information regarding possible added hardship and burden compared to their White counterparts. A review of the literature will bring an awareness of the existing hardships or obstacles, as well as possible future actions of intervention within the special education systems when interacting with these families. This will point to supportive social transformation for those lacking social and economic privileges, as well as modify and possibly identify missing links among the broken chain of services in special education, allowing for new provisions to serve children with identified special needs. This information will also be useful to implement acculturation and empowerment tools to support families of children with identified special needs. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


ORCID: 0000-0001-8817-167X