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Bilingualism and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Issues, Research, and Implications

Clinicians and educators often recommend that bilingual parents expose their children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to only one language, despite the fact that there is limited research on bilingualism and children with ASD. Typically, the recommended language is English, as it is the dominant language of education and treatment services. The push to use only one language with autistic children from bilingual households is related to the notion that becoming bilingual is too challenging for children with ASD and might even cause additional language delays. This paper looks at the extent to which such beliefs are supported by the literature. What does the limited research on this issue suggest about whether the recommendation to avoid fostering bilingualism is truly in the best interest of children with ASD from bilingual households? Implications for parents, educators, clinicians, and researchers are discussed.