Bilingualism and Autism, Dr Rachael Davis

School of Education M35
Thursday 23 March 2023 (16:00-17:00)

DISN Research Seminar with Dr Rachael Davis, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

While all children should have access to their linguistic and cultural identities as a fundamental human right, this is currently not the case for all autistic children. Although studies have shown that children living in a dual-language environment benefit from the close family and cultural connections that their shared language affords, parents of autistic bilingual children remain concerned about the potentially harmful effects for their child’s development. While these concerns are not based on evidence, language access for some autistic children is being prevented, and our current understanding of how bilingualism impacts autistic children is limited.

I will be presenting findings from three research projects in this area. First, a project looking to understand the relationship between bilingual language exposure and cognitive skills. Second, a qualitative research project that aims to capture the perspectives of autistic children regarding their bilingual experiences and the intersection of their identities. Third, I will present findings from a qualitative study that asked speech and language therapists about the barriers and facilitators to good practice when working with autistic bilingual children. 


Rachael is a lecturer and researcher in Psychology & Education at QMU in Edinburgh, and before this, she was a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Rachael is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on autism, cognition, and education. Central to her work is a commitment to involving the communities that she works with in the research process; ensuring this research has a strong participatory ethos and has real-world relevance to the people that matter. 

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