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Bilingual children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children on the autism spectrum require adaptive education, but are equally capable of learning more than one language. Follow these tips for a smoother experience that’s more comfortable for your child:

  • continue speaking your home language even when your child is learning English. Your child will not get ‘confused’ hearing more than 1 language.
  • use the language or languages that you are most fluent in when communicating with your child. This will help your child to build relationships with all members of the family.
  • use gestures and/or visual cards when speaking with your child in your home language. This will help your child to communicate more effectively with you.

What research tells us

  • bilingual children with autism do not experience additional delays in language development.
  • children with autism can manage vocabulary in more than 1 language.
  • using 2 or more languages with a child with autism spectrum disorder helps to develop their social skills.
  • bilingual autistic children tend to use more gestures to communicate than those exposed to one language.

Remember that even if a child is non-verbal, we should not exclude them from the opportunity to learn any languages spoken at home.

For further support if your child attends an early years setting, please talk to the SENCO at the setting. If your child does not attend an early years setting, please talk to your health visitor or contact your local family hub.