Autism and Bilingualism: A Qualitative Interview Study of Parents' Perspectives and Experiences Purpose Research into how bilingual parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make choices about their children's language environment is scarce. This study aimed to explore this issue, focusing on understanding how bilingual parents of children with ASD may make different language exposure choices compared with bilingual parents of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2017
Autism and Bilingualism: A Qualitative Interview Study of Parents' Perspectives and Experiences
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sarah Hampton
    Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Hugh Rabagliati
    Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Antonella Sorace
    Department of English Language and Linguistics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Sue Fletcher-Watson
    Patrick Wild Centre, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Sarah Hampton: shampton@exseed.ed.ac.uk
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya
    Associate Editor: Margarita Kaushanskaya×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2017
Autism and Bilingualism: A Qualitative Interview Study of Parents' Perspectives and Experiences
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2017, Vol. 60, 435-446. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0348
History: Received October 2, 2015 , Revised February 24, 2016 , Accepted June 20, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2017, Vol. 60, 435-446. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0348
History: Received October 2, 2015; Revised February 24, 2016; Accepted June 20, 2016

Purpose Research into how bilingual parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make choices about their children's language environment is scarce. This study aimed to explore this issue, focusing on understanding how bilingual parents of children with ASD may make different language exposure choices compared with bilingual parents of children without ASD.

Method Semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with 17 bilingual parents with a child with ASD and 18 bilingual parents with a typically developing (TD) child.

Results Thematic analysis revealed that, in contrast to parents of TD children, parents with a child with ASD expressed concerns that a bilingual environment would cause confusion for their child and exacerbate language delays. This was particularly common for parents of children with lower verbal ability. Parents also identified potential benefits of bilingualism, particularly in terms of maintaining a close and affectionate bond with their child.

Conclusions Parents of children with ASD have concerns about bilingualism not present for parents of TD children, and these concerns are greater for parents of children with lower verbal ability. Future research in this area should take into account factors such as parent–child bonds as well as communication and language development.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the University of Edinburgh College of Humanities and Social Science Challenge Investment Fund. The funding source had no role in the writing of the article or in the decision to submit the article for publication. We thank all the parents who kindly gave their time to participate in the study as well as two undergraduate research assistants, Jennifer Boyd and Gintare Siugzdinyte, for their support with analyses.
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