Social Differences Between Monolingual English and Bilingual English-Spanish Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Bilingualism is increasingly prevalent; however, research in bilingual children with autism is sparse. The purpose of this study was to compare social skills and autistic features in monolingual English and bilingual English-Spanish children with autism spectrum disorder. Methods: We conducted a review of the multidisciplinary evaluations done in all children aged one to six years diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in an inner city, university-affiliated clinic from 2003 to 2013. Collected information included demographics, developmental testing, and autistic characteristics. Results: We identified 462 children; 165 were bilingual English-Spanish and 297 were monolingual English. Parents of bilingual children reported stereotyped or repetitive use of language more often (66% vs 48% P = 0.002) than monolinguals. Significant differences were not found in social interaction, use of nonverbal behaviors, peer relationships, sharing or social or emotional reciprocity, mannerisms, or autism severity. Conclusions: Bilingualism does not seem to confer an extra vulnerability on children with autism spectrum disorder; however, differences in qualitative use of language were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric Neurology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Autism
  • Bilingualism
  • Language
  • Social characteristics
  • Young children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this