Creating effective Speech and Language Therapy provision to support autistic children from multilingual families

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Faculty of Education


There is growing evidence that high-quality Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) provision can play a key role in improving the quality of life of monolingual children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but an outstanding dearth of knowledge exists around best SaLT practices for their multilingual peers. The combination of increased autism diagnoses in the UK in an age where bilingualism has become the norm rather than the exception means that this research gap cannot be ignored. This research seeks to investigate the urgent need to further understand the lived experience of multilingual children (with ASD) and families, and positively influence SaLT provision. Through methodological triangulation, I will investigate (1) current SaLT best practice and evidence published to date (using realistic synthesis), (2) the impact of variation in linguistic and cultural exposure on social communication features
displayed by multilingual children with ASD (using case-series and play observations that will be analysed alongside specific literature on appropriate cultural and social communication practices), and (3) experiences of SaLT practitioners and multilingual parents (interviews). By using theoretical frameworks highlighting the importance of a person-based
clinical approach and social health models encouraged by the SaLT professional body, I aim to facilitate more tailoredassessment and intervention practices for multilingual children with ASD.


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