Bilingualism and students with ASD: A world with possibilities

Thursday, October 24th from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. Atlantic Time
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition characterized by differences in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors. These behavioral differences are often accompanied by difficulties in language acquisition, leading many to conclude that bilingualism is too challenging for children with ASD. Emerging empirical evidence, however, contradicts this assumption and instead suggests that bilingualism can be feasible for children with ASD. Guided by this emerging evidence, this webinar will provide an overview of bilingual development in children with ASD. We will also discuss available evidence as to the influence of bilingualism on the cognitive abilities and academic achievements of children with ASD. Through this webinar, we will illustrate the potential for bilingualism within children with ASD, while acknowledging some practical challenges of bilingual education.

Authors’ Bios: This webinar was co-created by Drs. Tamara Sorenson Duncan, Mandy Kay-Raining Bird and Isabel M. Smith.

Tamara Sorenson Duncan, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University. She is an expert on bilingual development in childhood. Her research focuses on language and literacy development in children from diverse backgrounds and with diverse learning needs, including children with ASD.

Mandy Kay-Raining Bird, PhD is a Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Dalhousie University and a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. The main focus of her research is in the area of cultural and linguistic diversity and bilingualism, including children with ASD and Down syndrome.

Isabel M. Smith, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University and the Joan and Jack Craig Chair in Autism Research at the IWK Health Centre. As a Developmental-Clinical Psychologist, her research focuses on the development, health and well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities, especially children and youth with ASD.