Friday, January 15, 2016

Bilingualism and Children with Autism

 Current research shows that children with autism can be bilingual with no added delay or difficulty in their language development. Best practice exhorts teachers, therapists, pediatricians, and other professionals who work with a child with autism to encourage families to continue to use home languages. The following is a list of resources and research for families and practitioners that support bilingualism in children with autism.

What research have you found that supports the alternative view (that families should focus on one language)? Please share in the comments.

When conflicting information is given, families and professionals are encouraged to ask the source to point to specific, current research to support their claims.  Families can be supported to make their own well-informed decisions by professionals who provide resources that are explicitly tied to research.

These are some questions for professionals to consider as they wrestle with this issue for any family:
  • Where is this advice supported in research?
  • Are families' linguistic and cultural rights being supported in this advice?
  • What would be the impacts (e.g. cognitive, social-emotional, cultural and linguistical, short-term/long-term) if families discontinue/continue the use of their home languages?
  • Is there bias and/or privilege that exists behind the advice given?
  • What is the level of English proficiency of the caregivers?
  • Do the caregivers have the information they need to make a well-informed decision?

Check out these sources:
  1. "Communicative Development in Bilingually Exposed Chinese Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders" by Rachel Reetzke, Xiaobing Zou, Li Sheng, and Napoleon Katsos. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 813-825. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-13-0258 History: Received September 24, 2013; Revised September 2, 2014; Accepted January 13, 2015.
  2. "Children with ASD from Bilingual Families: A Systematic Review" by Heather Drysdale, Larah van der Meer, and Debora Kagohara. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, March 2015, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 26-38.
  3. "Bilingualism and Autism Spectrum Disorders" by Sofia Carias, M.S. CCC-SLP. 2008.
  4. "Multicultural Perspectives on Teaching Students with Autism." Wilder, Lynn K.; Dyches, Tina T.; Obiakor, Festus E.; Algozzine, Bob. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Summer 2004.
  5. "To Be or Not to be Bilingual: Autistic Children from Multilingual Families." Kremer-Sadlik, Tamar (University of California, Los Angeles). Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism, 2005.
  6. "Survey of Bilingualism in Autism Spectrum Disorders." Bird EK, Lamond E, Holden J. Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2012 Jan-Feb;47(1):52-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00071.x. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Partnering with ESL Teachers: A Blog Post by a Watertown Speech and Language Pathologist

Happy New Year!

My SLP colleague, Maryann MacDougall, had a blog post published on The ASHA Leader Blog on December 24! Congrats to Maryann! 

In her post, she highlights our collaboration in evaluating dual language learners at our integrated preschool. The post includes links to this blog and our Watertown ELE Google Site (which showcases our "BiG" Campaign).

Here's to continued successful ESL/SLP collaboration in 2016!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Don't miss this podcast!

This American Life had a recent podcast about a son of Chinese immigrants who never learned to speak Chinese. (Start at 40:37)

"Larry's mom spoke to him in English. She felt that since he lived in America, learning English was his first priority. And she assumed he would just pick up Chinese..." 

He could never speak to his father until...

Bilingualism is a Gift!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Resources from US Dept of Ed Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)

The White House Task Force on New Americans has released some resources for implementing the "Dear Colleague" letter of January 2015.

  • A free webinar on *The Benefits of Dual-Language Learning* is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30 from 2-3PM. 
  • A Toolkit for ELs is available as well and has a chapter (Ch 6) specifically addressing ELLs with disabilities.
Want to join the webinar with me? Signing in a little late is probably OK!

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Warm Welcome

Welcome back! I hope your year is off to a fabulous start. We are all busy welcoming new and returning families and children and working to establish routines. There's a fresh energy in the air! So let's go with it and ask ourselves a few of questions right away to make sure we are meeting some of the specific needs of our linguistically and culturally diverse families:

1. Do I know my students' *real* first names and how to say them correctly? (Read more here.) Simply asking families, "How do you say his name (again)?" or asking a child, "How do you say your name (again)?" helps to clarify. What do your students' names mean? We are learners, too. Learn about Burmese naming practices here to get you thinking:

 2. How will I explicitly support and encourage families and children (new and returning) to continue the use of their home languages? (Read more here and here.) This is something we are learning about together and something for which we all have a role. Please come see me for resources and let's figure this out. Just today, WPS launched a "Bilingualism is a Gift" campaign (WPS staff can check District News!) in our community. 

3. What simple greeting can I learn from families in their home languages to use in the classroom and when interacting with families? Read #12 in my list here about my own experiences saying "As-salam alaykum" اسلام علیکم  to Pashtun families here in Watertown. I've been talking a lot with folks recently about how a smile and a simple greeting in the language of a family goes a long way. What greetings do you know? Let's help each other learn!

What are your ideas for continuing to make diverse families feel very welcomed in our school? Please share.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WIDA Early Years Focus Bulletin 2

In March, WIDA released their second Early Years Focus Bulletin. It highlights ECE programs in Massachusetts. (We are "trailblazers" for WIDA Early Years for the nation, by the way!) The bulletin gives concrete examples of how practitioners:
  • Support home language development
  • Welcome linguistically and culturally diverse families
  • Support the learning of developmentally appropriate academic language (DAAL)
These topics are all very relevant to what we have talked about this year. Be sure to check it out here: under "Focus on Early Years, Part 2."

When you read it, I wonder: 
What encourages you in your practice? 
What ideas can you add to your own repertoire

Let's chat!

Monday, April 20, 2015

WIDA E-ELD in Multiple Languages

The WIDA E-ELD Resource Guide is now available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Good for sharing with families!