Unintended consequences: An ethnographic narrative case series exploring language recommendations for bilingual families of children with autistic spectrum disorders

Erik Fernandez Y'Garcia, Joshua Breslau, Robin Hansen, Elizabeth Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: This ethnographic narrative case series explores the social consequences of an "English-only" (EO) recommendation for multilingual multicultural families of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs). Methods: Open-ended ethnographic narrative interviews were conducted with five bilingual families of children with ASD. These families were asked about their experiences and perspectives on their language choices and the effects of the EO recommendations on their everyday lives. Results: All families were told by professionals to use English exclusively with their children with ASD. The parents reported diverse effects of this language choice on family, school, and community interactions. Discussion: "English-only" recommendations may alter the linguistic and social environments of children with ASD from bilingual families and may have unintended effects on the children's and families' social networks. The full context of bilingual families' lived experiences should be explored when making language recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012



  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Bilingualism
  • Language recommendations
  • Limited English proficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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