Speaker: Napoleon Katsos (University of Cambridge)
Title: Can children with autism grow up bilingually? Insights from experimental pragmatics
Abstract: Among parents and professionals there is a common albeit empirically unsupported belief that bilingual exposure may be detrimental to the development of children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. In this presentation I will review collaborative research that addresses the question of bilingualism in the context of a developmental disorder from multiple perspectives. Starting from the observation that bilingualism is a fundamental right of children, I will then present a systematic meta-analysis which reveals that bilingualism has no adverse effect on the linguistic and cognitive development of children with autism. In fact, I will outline three possible cognitive models of pragmatic competence which suggest that bilingualism may be beneficial for children with autism. I will present experimental studies on pragmatics in bilingual children with and without autism that suggest this might be the case. Finally, research that represents the lived experiences of parents and children themselves will be used to shed light onto the challenges and expectations that families of bilingual children with autism face in everyday life and to motivate further investigations.
Room S1, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ