Parents of children with ASD known all too well the struggles their children deal with when it comes to developing language. Most people assume that because children with ASD struggle so much with learning one language, it would be extremely challenging for them to become bilingual. Why focus on teaching your child two languages if they are already struggling with their mother tongue?
Contrary to these beliefs, there is very little evidence that these notions hold any truth. In fact, multiple studies have shown that children with ASD can learn multiple languages just as well as they can learn one. Even more, some studies suggest that children with ASD may do very well in multilingual environments.
Embracing multilingualism among children with ASD
Although there have not been very many studies based around multilingualism and children with developmental delays like ASD, the few that have been done offer insight into the multiple benefits of ASD children becoming multilingual.
One study suggests that bilingual children with ASD have language skills that come close to those found in monolingual children with ASD. It also concluded that both mono and bilingual ASD children acquired social and cognitive skills at similar rates.
That same study also found that children with ASD who know multiple languages are twice as likely to use gestures to communicate, like pointing, than their monolingual counterparts. This may suggest that multilingual children with ASD may have better non verbal communication skills.
Not teaching languages may lead to feelings of isolation
If your home speaks multiple languages and your child with ASD only knows one of them, it may cause them to feel isolated from the rest of the family. Teaching native tongues to your child can help you share your culture with them, even if it is hard for them to learn it. It can help create a sense of belonging and brings the family closer together.
Researchers staying optimistic about their findings
According to Sue Fletcher-Watson, chancellor’s fellow in developmental psychology at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, researchers are staying optimistic about their overall findings. They are continuing to find overlaps between the specific areas which may be helped through learning more than one language and the areas in which children with ASD struggle.
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Discover Seven Stars, a therapeutic program for teens struggling with neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and nonverbal learning disorder, helps teens overcome social and academic struggles.
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