The aim of our new study is to understand the impact of bilingualism on development in children with and without autism spectrum disorders.
Here is a short video telling you more about our project
We want to find out how growing up in a bilingual environment affects the linguistic, cognitive and social development of children and, importantly, do these effects differ for children with autism spectrum disorders?
- As well as having no appreciable negative impact on language development, there is evidence that bilingualism may provide advantages in social and language skills, and the ability to understand another’s thoughts, beliefs and other internal states (known as theory of mind). Advantages have also been proposed in other abilities such as flexible thinking, self-control task switching. However, these findings have been disputed, with others reporting no differences between monolingual and bilingual children.
- Despite the existence of a sizeable body of research into the effects of bilingualism on typical development, important questions remain about the exact consequences of bilingualism for cognitive development.
- In addition to questions in typical development, there is very little research addressing how bilingualism might impact upon those with neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder. What limited literature exists can be summarised as follows: bilingual exposure does not lead to poorer development of language in children with ASD. However, our own interview study shows that parents are concerned about the possible impact of bilingual exposure on their autistic child’s ability to develop language. Furthermore, practitioners often recommend use of a single, community-majority language with a child following identification of autism. We think this could have negative impacts on social, family and community life as well as potentially impacting on cognitive development.
- We want to collect detailed cognitive and family data over time from bilingually-exposed children with and without autism. We will explore whether bilingualism offers an advantage for children with autism and their families, and better understand the relationship between early bilingual exposure and later outcomes in language, social and communication abilities, and in community integration and family-life. This project will provide an evidence base for making clinical recommendations about bilingual language exposure for children with autism and will allow us to answer important questions about how a bilingual environment affects language and cognitive development.
This is where we’ll tell families about participation
This is where we’ll tell you how autistic people have helped to shape this project
We know that bilingualism can refer to a wide range of things, but we’re talking about when people speak, or even just hear more than one language.
- If your child speaks English at school but a different language at home
- If one parent speaks English and the other speaks a different language
- If you don’t speak a second language, but other family members doIf your child hears two, or even more languages, any amount counts!
If you have any further questions about the project please contact Rachael Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org