Research Article  |   February 2013
Issues in Bilingualism and Heritage Language Maintenance: Perspectives of Minority-Language Mothers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Author Notes
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity
Research Article   |   February 2013
Issues in Bilingualism and Heritage Language Maintenance: Perspectives of Minority-Language Mothers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology February 2013, Vol.22, 10-24. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/10-0078)
History: Accepted 17 Jun 2012 , Received 10 Sep 2010 , Revised 17 Jun 2011
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology February 2013, Vol.22, 10-24. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/10-0078)
History: Accepted 17 Jun 2012 , Received 10 Sep 2010 , Revised 17 Jun 2011

Purpose: The author investigated the language practices of 10 bilingual, Chinese/English-speaking, immigrant mothers with their children with autism spectrum disorders. The aim was to understand (a) the nature of the language practices, (b) their constraints, and (c) their impact.

Method: The author employed in-depth phenomenological interviews with thematic and narrative analyses to yield themes.

Results: Interviewees reported that they adopted language practices perceived to be advantageous to intervention access and wellness. They valued Chinese language but did not pursue its use if it was believed to hinder the children’s overall development of English acquisition. All of the mothers believed that bilingualism made learning more challenging. Many believed that it caused confusion or exacerbated disabilities. These deficit views of bilingualism were commonly reinforced by professionals. All of the mothers were motivated to help their children learn English but had no assistance to do so. Practices were sustainable only when they were aligned with families' preferred communication patterns.

Conclusions: There is an urgent need for practitioners to be better informed about issues related to intergenerational language practices in minority-language families. Language use between parents and children is a complex matter that is unique to each family. Parents need to be supported to make language use decisions that are self-enhancing and congruent with their families' needs.

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