Purpose: The present study examined the perspectives of professionals regarding bilingualism and ASD. Methods: A total of 27 professionals participated in this study. Data was collected via an online survey. The survey was designed based on a literature review and consultation with a team of experts in the field of ASD. Information relating to demographic information, professional practice information, and perspectives of bilingualism and ASD was collected. Results: Professionals participating in the present study were most likely to agree with the statement, “A child with ASD from a bilingual household is able to understand both languages” and least likely to agree with the statement, “There are enough bilingual service providers and resources.” Responses to 5 of the 8 statements related to professional perspectives on bilingualism in children with ASD were near the scale midpoint indicating the participants did not strongly agree nor disagree with the perceptions. When asked what language parents should speak to their children with ASD from a bilingual household, 44% of participants recommended a bilingual approach, and 30% indicated a monolingual approach. Participants reported professional experience and the ability to communicate with caregivers/others in the environment/parent language use as influences for these recommendations. Furthermore, sex, level of education, and bilingual caseload were found to be significantly related to perspectives on bilingualism and ASD. Conclusion: The results of this study support previous literature which has identified a disconnect between research and clinical practice regarding bilingualism and ASD. Furthermore, the relationship between specific demographic and professional variables found in this study can now be used by future research studies and programs targeting bilingualism and ASD. These findings are of particular importance when considering that research has supported bilingualism in children with ASD, yet many professionals continue to implement a monolingual approach. A better understanding of professional perspectives of bilingualism in ASD provides insight into the discrepancy between research and clinical practice and paves the way for future studies and programs targeting improved services for bilingual children with ASD.

Author Bio(s)

Rosa N. Benavidez Saldivar, M.S. received her master’s degree from UTRGV. Rosa is bilingual speaking both Spanish and English. Rosa’s current research and clinical interests focus on autism spectrum disorder, multicultural populations, early intervention, apraxia of speech, research, and augmented and alternative communication.

Jessica R. Stewart, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is an assistant professor at the UTRGV. Dr. Stewart has publications in multiple peer reviewed journals and has provided more than 20 professional presentations. Dr. Stewart’s research interests include early childhood language acquisition with an emphasis on autism spectrum disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Ruth Crutchfield, SLP.D., CCC-SLP is associate professor at UTRGV. Dr. Crutchfield graduated with her Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology in 2010 from Nova Southeastern University. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association. Dr. Crutchfield’s research interests stem from her Hispanic heritage and bilingualism.

Roy K. Chen, Ph.D. CRC, is a professor of rehabilitation counseling in the School of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Lily Puente, M.S., CCC-SLP is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She holds a bachelor's degree of arts in English, with an emphasis in linguistics and in Psychology and has more than 10 years of clinical experience, which includes supervision of assistants and graduate student clinicians.




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