Since states are mostly divided along socio-linguistic lines each state has its own official language. This means many children living in urban areas grow up speaking/hearing at least two if not three languages.
- It affects their capacity to use other forms of communication when verbal communication is difficult or absent. (such as AAC devices, text to speech software, written communication)
- It limits their capacity to inform themselves on the internet, through newspapers, books, etc. (easier to find books in English on any topic than in regional languages or even Hindi)
- It affects their understanding of school work as they study in English medium schools, this in turn could reduce their interest in school work.
- I believe the internet is a great tool for making friends, finding like-minded people and self-advocacy. It is in a way the future of the world. Most of the internet is in English, it reduces access to this amazing and important resource.
- It reduces their communication with society other than their family and in turn reduces the opportunity for other persons with autism, professionals and parents to learn from the life experiences of people on the spectrum in the long run.
Several aspects complicate this choice of language thing:
- While some schools teach purely in English, several English medium schools in Ahmedabad and other Gujarati cities use Hindi as language of instruction, which limits children’s exposure to English and will complicate things if they don’t understand Hindi.
- Often parents are not very fluent in English themselves and find it easier explaining things in their mother tongue or Hindi to their children. Same goes for professionals
- English alone or even English and mother tongue might not suffice for children in urban India as many people especially our service providers – shopkeepers, chemists, autowallahs, bus conductors, in India do not speak English.
This being said, I know children with autism who speak and understand over 3 languages. My question is for those who find it difficult.
I will add resources to this article as and when I find them.
HERE is another article the one above led me to.