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For children with autism, multiple languages may be a boon

The Spectrum News – Ann Griswold

“The science — what little exists — in fact suggests that these children should embrace multilingualism. “There are few studies on bilingualism in children with developmental disorders, and even fewer with appropriate control groups,” says Napoleon Katsos, lecturer in linguistics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In typical children, learning a second or third language hones critical thinking and executive function — a set of skills that includes attention, self-control and mental flexibility2. It also gives them an edge in reading and writing3. Children with developmental delays might reap those same benefits. Bilingual children with autism have language skills on par with monolingual children with the condition, and they acquire social and cognitive skills at the same rate4,5,6. But these children are twice as likely as monolingual children with autism to use gestures such as pointing when they communicate, according to a 2012 study. This finding suggests that they have a strong command of joint attention and are adept at nonverbal communication.'”(more)

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