Issues in Bilingualism and Heritage Language Maintenance: Perspectives of Minority-Language Mothers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders 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 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 01, 2013
Issues in Bilingualism and Heritage Language Maintenance: Perspectives of Minority-Language Mothers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Betty Yu
    San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
  • Correspondence to Betty Yu: bettyyu@sfsu.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Associate Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Autism Spectrum / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 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: Received September 10, 2010 , Revised June 17, 2011 , Accepted June 17, 2012
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2013, Vol. 22, 10-24. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/10-0078)
History: Received September 10, 2010; Revised June 17, 2011; Accepted June 17, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 15

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.

Acknowledgments
This study was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a doctoral degree by the author. A special thanks is offered to advisors Gloria Soto and Claire Kramsch and to the parents who participated in this study.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access