There is no
current research to suggest that speaking a language other than
English will harm a child (though many people think this). There
are numerous articles that support that use of the home language.
Please read the following research:
Bird, E. K.,
Cleave, P., Trudeau, N., Thordardottir, E., Sutton, A., &
Thorpe, A. (2005). The language abilities of bilingual children
with down syndrome. American Journal of Speech-Language
Pathology, 14, 187-199.
Paradis, J., & Crago, M. B. (2011). Dual language
development and disorders: A handbook on bilingualism and second
language learning- Second Edition. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes
T. (2005). To be or not to be bilingual: Autistic children
from multilingual families. Paper presented at the 2003 at the
ISB4: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on
Bilingualism. Retrieved October 20, 2011 fromwww.cascadilla.com/isb4.html
( Also, check out SFARI below)
A., & Sanchez, M. L. C. (1992). The effect of instruction in L1
on receptive acquisition of L2 for bilingual children with
language delay. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in
Schools, 23, 348-352.
Autism Research Initiative
The Simons Autism Foundation for
Research Initiative (SFARI) reports on two 2011 studies showing no
negative effects of bilingualism on children with autism.
Cognition and behavior: Bilingualism doesn't hinder language
8 November 2011
Bilingual parents should not be
discouraged from exposing children with autism to multiple
languages, two studies suggest. Growing up bilingual doesn’t impair
language skills in children with autism, according to two studies in
the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
For the first
half of the 20th century, many scientists believed that
learning more than one language impairs a child's cognitive
development. That idea has been debunked in the past few decades,
but for children with autism,
some clinicians still recommend learning only one
The two new
studies, the first to rigorously investigate this issue, challenge
that idea. The first, published 22 September, studied 75 children
with autism, between 3 and 6 years of age, separated into three
groups: 30 who were monolingual, 24 who were exposed to a second
language before 12 months of age, and 21 who were exposed to a
second language after 12 months of age1.
After giving the
children seven questionnaires and diagnostic tests, including the
Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised and the Social Responsiveness
Scale, the researchers found no significant differences in language
ability among any of the groups.
report, published 27 September, studied 28 children diagnosed with
an autism spectrum disorder, also between 3 and 6 years of age. Half
of the children spoke Chinese at home and English outside the home,
and the other half spoke only English2.
found no differences between the two groups on four different
language and vocabulary tests. What's more, after controlling for
non-verbal intelligence quotient scores and age, the team found that
bilingual children have larger English vocabularies than monolingual
Some studies on
typically developing bilingual children show that their vocabularies
in both languages are just as large as or larger than those of
children who learn one language3.
Others report that bilingual children tend to have smaller
both new studies conclude that bilingualism is not harmful to
children with autism, and that clinicians should not advise
bilingual parents to teach their children with autism only one
1: Hambly C. and E. Fombonne
J. Autism Dev. Disord. Epub ahead of print (2011)
2: Petersen J.M. et al. J.
Autism Dev. Disord. Epub ahead of print (2011)
3: Pearson B.Z. et al.
Lang. Learn. 43, 93–120 (1993)
4: Bialystok E. et al. J.
Cogn. Dev. 11, 485-508 (2010)
Here are two
(of may highly-recommended) videos that Brenda K. Gorman, Ph.D.,
CCC-SLP put together. They are relatively short and simple for
non-specialists, which many people find appealing. References are
listed on the Lingua Health website.
Needs Kids be Bilingual?:
Addressing Clinician–Client Mismatch:
A Preliminary Intervention Study With a Bilingual Vietnamese–English
a University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
b Centennial Early Childhood Special Education, Lino Lakes, MN
to Giang Pham:
project examined receptive vocabulary treatment outcomes in the two
languages of a bilingual preschooler with moderate to severe
Method: A series
of single-subject experimental designs was used to compare
English-only (EO) and bilingual (BI) approaches to receptive
vocabulary treatment. The participant, Nam, was a boy age 3;11 (years;months)
who was learning Vietnamese as a first language at home and English
in his early childhood education program. Treatment was implemented
by an EO interventionist using a computer interface and prerecorded
audio files in Vietnamese and English. The dependent measure was the
percentage of items that were correctly identified in each language.
Combined studies revealed that the BI approach increased Nam's
attention to task and was as effective as the EO approach for
increasing his receptive vocabulary in English. Nam made vocabulary
gains in both treatment conditions; receptive vocabulary gains were
evident in both Vietnamese and English.
project showed that it is feasible for an EO clinician to promote
gains in both the home and school languages of a BI child through
creative collaborations with BI colleagues and the use of
technology. Replication with additional participants and treatment
activities is needed to make further generalizations.