Tags: Autism | autism | bilingual | help | children

Can Being Bilingual Help Autistic Children?

Can Being Bilingual Help Autistic Children?
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 January 2018 12:00 PM

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have a hard time switching from one task to another, but being bilingual may actually make it easier, according to a new study which was published in Child Development.

"This is a novel and surprising finding," says senior author Aparna Nadig of Canada's McGill University. "Over the past 15 years there has been a significant debate in the field about whether there is a 'bilingual advantage' in terms of executive functions.

"Some researchers have argued convincingly that living as a bilingual person and having to switch languages unconsciously to respond to the linguistic context in which the communication is taking place increases cognitive flexibility," Nadig continued. "But no one has yet published research that clearly demonstrates that this advantage may also extend to children on the autism spectrum. And, so, it's very exciting to find that it does."

The study compared how easily children between the ages of six and nine, with or without ASD, who were either monolingual or bilingual, were able to shift tasks in a computer-generated test.

The children were first asked to sort a single object appearing on a computer screen by color (i.e. sort blue rabbits and red boats as being either red or blue). They were then asked to switch and sort the same objects instead by their shape (i.e. sort blue rabbits and red boats by shape regardless of their color).

The researchers found that bilingual children with ASD performed significantly better when it came to the more complex part of the task-shifting test relative to children with ASD who were unilingual.

The finding, says researchers, has potentially far-reaching implications for the families of children with ASD.

"It is critical to have more sound evidence for families to use when making important educational and child-rearing decisions, since they are often advised that exposing a child with ASD to more than one language will just worsen their language difficulties," says researchers Ana Maria Gonzalez-Barrero.

"But there are an increasing number of families with children with ASD for whom using two or more languages is a common and valued practice," she continued, "and, as we know, in bilingual societies such as ours in Montreal, speaking only one language can be a significant obstacle in adulthood for employment, educational, and community opportunities."

An earlier study from Arkansas Children's Research Institute found that a type of vitamin B called folinic acid could improve the communication skills of children with autism.

The randomized, placebo-controlled trial found that high prescription doses of folinic acid not only helped autistic children communicate better, but also identified specific biomarkers that could identify which children were most likely to respond to treatment.

Autistic children were randomized to receive either a placebo or high-dose folinic acid, which is a reduced form of folate. "Improvement in verbal communication was significantly greater in participants receiving folinic acid as compared with those receiving the placebo," says lead author Richard Frye.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects 1 in 68 children—a tenfold increase from 40 years ago, and is a bio-neurological developmental disability. There is no cure.

© 2019 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Health-News
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often have a hard time switching from one task to another, but being bilingual may actually make it easier, according to a new study which was published in Child Development."This is a novel and surprising finding," says senior...
autism, bilingual, help, children
522
2018-00-16
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 12:00 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read Newsmax Terms and Conditions of Service.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved