The goals of the Autism & Heritage Language Research Lab at San Francisco State University are to understand the factors that affect heritage language maintenance in families of children with autism and to investigate whether children on the autism spectrum demonstrate unique needs when learning more than one language.
Heritage languages (also known as home languages or mother tongues) are minority languages to which individuals have a cultural connection via their families, communities, or countries of origin. Some people are able to speak and write fluently in their heritage languages, while others have limited proficiency. Regardless of proficiency, heritage languages can be an important part of an individual's cultural identity and play crucial roles in maintaining relationships within families and communities.
Many parents and professionals worry that exposing children with autism to more than one language would cause them to be confused or further delayed. The body of research on bilingualism/multilingualism and autism remains small, but the emerging findings have shown consistently that children with autism and other developmental disabilities can and do learn more than one language successfully. We currently know little, however, about how to best support heritage language learning in children on the autism spectrum. This site is dedicated to advancing and sharing research on the topic. We also hope to provide resources for parents.
Our projects are supported by funding from:
The SF State University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Small Grant
The Spencer Foundation Small Grant.