Bilingualism and Brain Development Research
Wow! This article is an inspiring read! Who knew that being bilingual has proven positive effects on brain activity? Check out this ABC News article that nicely summarizes a recent study. According to the study, bilingual people, who had learned a second language in childhood, responded faster to directions that were shifting. In other words, their brains transitioned faster when presented with new stimuli. My favorite quote: "Until very recently, learning a second language in childhood was thought of as dangerous...actually, it’s beneficial.”
So, what does this mean for bilingual kids with speech or language disorders? Actually, a child's communication abilities should make no difference. Yes, children with speech or language disorders will be behind their typically developing peers, and these delays will be apparent in all languages these children learn and speak. However, the benefits of bilingualism are equally as great for these kids! Implications? Encourage rather than discourage bilingualism as your child is learning language in the home, school, and community. There are no known negatives, and the benefits are being consistently proven in research studies like the one posted here.
Here is a link to an excellent YouTube video interview discussing the research recommendations for bilingualism in children with Down Syndrome, autism, and other special needs.