Longitudinal Social and Communication Outcomes in Children with Autism Raised in Bi/Multilingual Environments

Abstract

Globally, there are more bilingual speakers than monolingual speakers; however, scant research evidence exists regarding social communication development and outcomes for bilingual children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A stronger evidence base will facilitate health professionals and educators providing accurate recommendations regarding language use. This study employed a longitudinal cohort design to compare social and communication skills, at baseline and over 12 months, for 60 monolingual and 60 bilingual children with ASD receiving community based early intervention. We found few differences at intake, and no difference in the magnitude of change over 12 months for this cohort. Findings support the notion that there is no basis on which to discourage home language use with bilingual children with ASD.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the AEIOU Foundation. During the preparation of this paper, Vishnu KK Nair was supported by a post-doctoral fellowship from the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture and Human Development. Portions of this work were presented at the 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASHA) Convention in Orlando, Florida, United States.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. JP and MT contributed to collection of the original data, and JP led the analyses. All authors contributed to the first and subsequent drafts of the manuscript, and read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Samantha Siyambalapitiya.

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Siyambalapitiya, S., Paynter, J., Nair, V.K.K. et al. Longitudinal Social and Communication Outcomes in Children with Autism Raised in Bi/Multilingual Environments. J Autism Dev Disord (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-04940-x

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Bilingualism
  • Early intervention
  • Home language
  • Social-communication outcomes