Sheila Cullen '92, Bilingual Expertise Featured in ASHA Leader

Sheila Cullen, '92

Sheila Cullen, a Bilingual Preschool Specialist at Santa Barbara County Education Office in Santa Barbara, CA graduated with her masters degree from CDSS in 1992. During her time at CU she recalls that she developed a strong interest in bilingual language development, “I made a request to take Spanish as my school-required elective, and even though denied, took the class anyway”. Since then she has put her bilingual knowledge and passion to work full force. “The County Ed office provides all the preschool special support services for the Santa Barbara district. Because I am the only bilingual therapist, my caseload consists entirely of emerging bilingual children from Spanish-speaking families.” A new article by Sheila titled The SLP as Second Language Learner was recently published in the ASHA Leader and can be seen at “The original article I wanted to write for the Leader was meant to encourage therapists who work with Spanish-speaking clients to learn even a little Spanish, so that they may form better bonds with family members. Even a small effort at bridging the cultural and linguistic gap can go a long way in building trust and communication with Spanish speaking families. One needn't achieve the levels described by ASHA as 'bilingual' in order to significantly improve the quality of interaction between the English-speaking therapist and Spanish-speaking family. There are many avenues for acquiring a beginning level of Spanish, from community college courses, online private Skype lessons, to self-teaching through books and audio tapes.”

For more on Sheila’s work with bilingual populations, see our Alumni Spotlight piece about her at: