Over the years that LCF Fun Languages has been operating, we have occasionally been delighted to welcome children with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or other learning disabilities into our language clubs.
By enrolling their child in a second language program, the parents of children with language impairments already understand that, if a child is able to learn a first language, there is no reason why they cannot learn a second. They simply desire to enhance and maximize their child’s communicative potential, often in the face of opposition from their speech pathologist or even their school.
We recently received this testimonial from one of our French parents and her experience with her own child with a speech delay:
“Our little girl was diagnosed with global developmental delay at 4 years of age. As a result, our speech therapist was concerned that she would not cope learning two languages (English/French). We knew that our daughter needed to be exposed to both languages from early childhood to better her chances to speak grammatically correctly as an adult. We met other bilingual families with children who had also learning or cognitive disabilities. Their experience, like ours dispels the myth that these children cannot learn a foreign language. Our children have a learning disability but are becoming nevertheless successful language learners.” Stephanie, mother of a 4 year old
In supporting parents with learning impairments, we also understand that the experiences of these children (and their parents) will, of course, vary considerably. However, the bottom line is that children will not experience any extra delay or difficulties than monolingual children with similar language difficulties.
Often, learning a new language will give children with a learning disability a self-confidence boost, especially if they lack other skills, often taken for granted among their peers, like riding a bicycle.