Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Monolingual vs Bilingual Homes: A Scoping Review

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2018 Jun;39(5):434-446. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000574.


Background: Approximately 20% of children in Canada and the United States are raised in bilingual family homes. Current recommendations for typically developing children are to encourage and support bilingual exposure in the home; however, there are no specific guidelines for families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), a disorder in which communication deficits are considered a hallmark feature.

Objective: The aim of this study is to present a scoping review of studies that compare cognitive, linguistic, and behavioral outcomes for children with ASDs raised in monolingual vs bilingual homes.

Methods: A systematic search of 6 databases for peer-reviewed literature and gray literature search through dissertation databases, conference archives, and reference lists of pertinent studies was conducted.

Results: Nine studies were included. No consistent differences were observed in the categories of core ASDs behaviors, cognitive function, or language. The studies suggest a potential bilingual advantage on nonverbal intelligence quotient scores, adaptive functioning, and expressive vocabulary.

Conclusion: There is no evidence of a detrimental effect of raising children with ASDs in a bilingual home.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior* / physiology
  • Child Development* / physiology
  • Child Rearing*
  • Cognition* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Multilingualism*