Comparative Language Development in Bilingual and Monolingual Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

The prevalence of both bilingual children and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is growing rapidly, and early childhood educators may be increasingly likely to encounter bilingual children with ASD in their classrooms. Because ASD significantly affects communication, many parents and professionals may have questions or concerns about the impact of bilingualism on language development in children with ASD. The present article presents a systematic review of the literature comparing monolingual to bilingual development in children with ASD. Seven articles were included, covering a wide variety of languages and involving predominantly young, simultaneously bilingual children with ASD. Results generally showed small, varied differences in both receptive and expressive language outcomes for bilingual and monolingual children with ASD, thus providing tentative support for the idea that bilingualism does not have a consistent or large negative effect on language development in children with ASD. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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