Back then, the most common advice that parents receive from clinicians with regards to the issue of bilingual children with autism was speaking more than one language should be stopped. Considering the nature of children with autism who often ends up having trouble in communicating and developing their language skills, such advice is only likely. This is a significant problem if it is to be based on the growing population of children who are born from parents with different nationalities. As a result, parents in the same situation are often left deciding on which language their child should focus on learning.
The Good News
Recent studies show that bilingualism does not pose any harm in children with autism’s language development. The study made by Marinova-Todd, Mirenda and Peterson was only small-scale but it presents significant proofs that there is nothing wrong if a child with autism gets exposed to two languages.
In the study made, it even showed that the vocabularies of bilingual children with autism are just as such as those kids who are monolingual and also have ASD. Such findings are also likely to result in reduced clinician recommendations about discouraging parents from exposing their children with ASD from more than one language.
Bilingualism Should Not Be Discouraged. It, In Fact, Comes with Plenty of Benefits
The study made established that children with autism spectrum disorders can also become bilingual. But there are is one more evident conclusion that can be made from the findings showed in the study. It is the obvious fact that bilingualism does not necessarily cause a child with autism to develop worse language than a monolingual kid. If it will be viewed in a wider scope, bilingualism is even beneficial for these kids.
The study conducted by Marinova-Todd, Mirenda and Peterson was not the first one made focused on bilingual children with autism. The same studies were also already made in the past. In one of those studies, the one performed by Fombonne and Hambly, it was discovered that children with ASD who got exposed to 2 languages since they were born have higher scores in terms of social interaction compared to those exposed to only one language. It was also concluded that these bilingual children with ASD were more likely to use gestures and vocalize.
Language also plays an important role to building relationships. Hence, the importance of exposing them to the language most used at home is further given importance. Excluding them from learning that language would only result to making it more difficult for them to build relationships with the rest of the family, the community as well as their culture.
To conclude, it is true that it is a main problem for kids with this disorder to find it hard to communicate and develop their language skills. So this makes it more unrealistic to achieve or even maintain bilingualism or multilingualism for them. However, your child’s case must be separated from this if it is noticeable that they have the capability to learn a language. Such instance only shows that the child has the capacity to learn more than just one, which parents should provide guidance for to help with their development.