Many bilingual parents have asked me whether they should raise their child with Autism as monolingual. They expressed concerns that their child might be confused by being exposed to two languages simultaneously. As their child has already had challenges with social communication, engaging them in two different languages would confuse them and not help them make progress in their language development.
Simply said, it is a myth.
Beauchamp and MacLeod (2017) indicated in their study, “research has demonstrated that bilinguals with various developmental disabilities do not experience additional language delays when compared to their monolingual peers.”
Many professionals in the fields of health care and education often recommend that bilingual families raise their children with ASD as monolinguals so that the child could be less confuse and speak.
However, this study indicated that the recommendations of professionals to parents of children with ASD are “erroneous.” One important implication is “the inability for parents and children to communicate proficiently” and the “negative impact on the parent– child relationship.”
So, if you had to choose one or another, which language would you pick?
The language of love is the one that you feel most comfortable speaking and can freely express your affect. For children with Autism, affective reciprocal interaction between you and your child is the vehicle for his social-emotional and language skills.
I hope you’ll feel confident using the language of love with your child everyday!
Bilingualism in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Making Evidence Based Recommendations By Beauchamp, Myriam L. H.; MacLeod, Andrea A. N.