Are you a teacher or educator in the UK working with autistic bilingual children (or young people) and their families? Join us for an online workshop to hear about current research from experts in the field. This is a webinar specifically designed for educators working in the UK. If you are not based in the UK, you are welcome to join, but the speakers might not be able to answer questions about practices in your country.

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During this webinar, five researchers will discuss the latest findings in the field of bilingualism in autism, from a global and multidisciplinary perspective. The topics covered will include:

  • language development of autistic bilingual children
  • cognitive development of autistic bilingual children
  • lived experiences of autistic bilingual children and their parents
  • social skills and experiences of autistic bilingual adults
  • barriers to support

The five short talks will be followed by a general discussion where attendees will be able to ask questions directly to the speakers and autistic advocates, and share their experiences. The webinar will take place on either Zoom or Teams Live (TBC). You will receive the login details a few days before the event (make sure to check the spam folder).

Programme

4:30 pm - Welcome & Introduction

4:35 pm - Autism: A brief introduction - Dr Rachael Davis - Queen Margaret University

4:40 pm - How does bilingualism shape the developping mind of autistic children? - Dr Shereen Sharaan - University of Edinburgh

Both executive skills (such as the ability to juggle between information) and social cognition (such as the ability to understand social information) are important for the quality of life of all people, including autistic people. Shereen will summarize findings on the effect of bilingualism on the development of these mental mechanisms for autistic children.

4:55 pm - How does bilingualism shape the language development of autistic children? - Dr Vicky Chondrogianni - University of Edinburgh

Autistic children often have some difficulties with language development. Does growing up with several languages makes developping language more challenging? In this talk, we will review the current data about the language development trajectories of autistic children who grow up with several languages, and we will discuss what are the things they can find difficult.

5:10 pm - One language or two? Lived experiences of bilingual children on the autism spectrum and their families - Dr Katie Howard - University of Exeter

Is it helpful or harmful for children on the autism spectrum to grow up speaking more than one language? And what are the consequences of such language decisions on their education and family life? In this talk we will discuss these important questions by considering the experiences of autistic children growing up in multilingual households. We will also consider the perspectives of parents and educators, drawing on the findings of three qualitative studies on bilingualism in autism. This presentation will be delivered as a pre-recorded video.

5:25 pm - Bilingualism as lived: How bilingualism shapes the life and social skills of autistic adults - Dr Bérengère Digard - University of Edinburgh

Bilingualism shapes the social skills and social life of non-autistic people, is it also the case for non-autistic people? How do autistic bilingual people perceive the combined experience of autism and bilingualism? In this talk we will review how autistic bilingual adults themselves see bilingualism, and how their mental and social skills has been shaped by their language journey.

5:40 pm - Where do we go from here? - Panel discussion hosted by Dr Rachael Davis - University of Edinburgh

The final part of the event will be a panel discussion between the presenters and the attendees. We hope to learn about your needs and concerns as much as we hope you will learn about our research. 

6:00 pm - Close