Bilingualism and Language Development in Children with Autism

from ACT’s 12th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 16th, 2016


Many bilingual families are told by professionals to speak only one language (in Canada, either English or French) to their child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The rationale for this recommendation is that the linguistic input to which these children are exposed should be as simplistic as possible in order to facilitate language learning, given the social-communicative challenges inherent in ASD. Until recently, few studies had compared language development in monolingual vs. bilingual children with ASD to determine if exposure to more than one language is, in fact, problematic. This presentation will summarize the research in this area, much of which was conducted in Canada, with recommendations for bilingual parents and for professionals who support them.

Presenter: Pat Mirenda, PhD, BCBA

Pat 2015Pat Mirenda is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism at the University of British Columbia. She has published numerous research articles and presents frequently at international and national conferences. Her research examines the developmental trajectories of children with autism and their families.



Download the supplementary handout for this video series

Part 1: Introduction and Parents’ Experiences

Part 2: Review of the Research on ASD and Bilingualism

Part 3: School-Age Children and Language

Part 4: Q&A