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A new study has found that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may have an easier time switching between tasks if they learn a second language.

Published in Child Development, the study has found new reasons to believe that Autistic children who are bilingual have increased cognitive flexibility compared to children that are monolingual.

According to Professor Aparna Nadig, the senior author of the paper, from McGill University, this research has been a long time in the making.

A new study has found that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) may have an easier time switching between tasks if they learn a second language.

Published in Child Development, the study has found new reasons to believe that Autistic children who are bilingual have increased cognitive flexibility compared to children that are monolingual.

According to Professor Aparna Nadig, the senior author of the paper, from McGill University, this research has been a long time in the making.

The conclusion is huge - and could change the way parents of children with ASD decide to teach their children.

Because it was previously thought that learning a second language would only make it harder for ASD children to learn a language, or worsen their existing language difficulties, the new research is a turning point in how children with ASD are educated - especially in countries where knowing multiple languages is commonplace.

The research is especially significant in Montreal, where it took place, because as Ana Maria Gonzalez-Barerro, the paper’s first author explained: “in bilingual societies such as ours in Montreal, speaking only one language can be a significant obstacle in adulthood for employment, educational, and community opportunities.”

Although the initial study was relatively small, the researchers believe the implications of their findings are huge and plan to continue the study by following the children over the next three to five years to see how they develop.

The Independent UK