The Use of Code-Switching in Bilingual Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Monica Yolanda Ponce-Lawler, University of Texas at El Paso


Background: Code-switching may be seen as a weakness in the eyes of many who do not truly understand bilingualism. Several professionals consider code-switching to be a compensatory strategy, however other professionals perceive code-switching as a functionally motivating behavior (Chung, 2006). Whether is it consciously or subconsciously that a child code-switches, there is limited research on when bilingual children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are likely to code-switch as well as what patterns they utilize when they code-switch. Purpose: To grow the limited research on the use of code-switching in bilingual children with ASD. Introduce and compare two language treatments; a bilingual Spanish/English language intervention treatment and a monolingual English language intervention with two bilingual children with ASD. From the data gathered, examine their use of code-switching and during which treatment condition the children code-switched most. The data also helped identify the different patterns found in the code-switching used. Methods: A time series design across 2 participants was utilized, which allowed measurements of the same variable to be taken at different points in time for two different participants. Descriptive statistics were then used to compare the use of code-switching between the two participants. Results: The participants exhibited an increased production of code-switching in the Bilingual treatment condition. Though both participants showed greater production of code-switching between utterances as well as a higher percentage of code-switching in elicited responses, Participant A, who was older, showed fewer instances of code-switching than Participant B. Conclusion: The results show that when a bilingual child with ASD comprehends that they are allowed to speak two languages, they will use all the resources they have in both languages in order to get their message across.

Subject Area

Speech therapy

Recommended Citation

Ponce-Lawler, Monica Yolanda, "The Use of Code-Switching in Bilingual Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10281413.