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  • Writer's pictureTiffany J Chen

Debunking Some Bilingual Myths

Hey movers and shakers of the SLP world! This week, we'll be talking about Bilingualism and some myths and facts when it comes to language delays/children with speech-language disorders/ children with ASD.

As a bilingual speech therapist, I dedicate a portion of my time every semester to educate parents and encourage them to speak to their child in the language they are most comfortable in- it doesn't have to be English!

Here are some common myths:

-My child has Autism, speaking to them in two languages will only confuse them more.

-> What does the SLP say:

-My child has language delay, my doctor says it is because he/she is hearing two different languages at home and at school. My doctor wants me to speak only in English so my child can learn better in school.

-> What does the SLP say: Of course not! Keep speaking to the child in your best/most comfortable language! Don't take away your native language because your child may be struggling to understand and speak English. Be consistent and persistent when talking to your children in your native language. For bilingual children, it may take them a while to understand all aspects of both languages (e.g., morphemes, syntax, lexicon, accurate phonemic production/distinction). Your child needs a little more time to use the two languages like a typically developing child. In most cases, speech therapy and the right classroom environment should give your child a boost and help them become successful.

-My child is not speaking as much as the kids he/she plays with at the playground. I think my child might have a language delay, but the doctor says my child is just going through a phase and they'll grow out of it.

-> What does the SLP say: If your gut instincts say your child is not developing the same way as other children. Go with it, ask an SLP to evaluate your child, and the earlier the better! You know your child best, and if they are not speaking phrases and sentences in BOTH languages (English and family language) with the same complexity, get support! We SLPs will be there for you!

-My child was evaluated for speech-and language therapy services. The test says that my child does not meet the qualifications. The test says my child is close to the borderline.

-> What does the Bilingual SLP say: A child exposed to a different language does not meet the standardized norms in all formal tests. Rather, a bilingual SLP who can evaluate the child in both languages will have the experience and knowledge to know whether the child is having difficulty in just English or in both languages exposed to. Don't just rely on the test scores!

Here are some of the top myths I've encountered since I started my clinical work. I will keep sharing more from time to time! Stay tuned!

Language is power! XOXO- Tiffany

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