Originally Posted by toweringpine
Their school speech therapist believes that they should not use a second language - their son does not yet respond to his name, and she feels that they are further delaying his progress by using two languages. Others have supported their choice and it appears there's quite a bit of research out there that says it is not a bad thing.
I work with special needs kids, and some of them are English Language Learners. It's tough for them. None the less, I can't imagine anyone at our school telling a family to stop speaking their language to their child (in our cases, it really isn't a choice -- we have families in which one or more of the parents aren't fluent in English).
Is his name pronounced the same in both languages? I'm not following the speech therapist's logic that speaking to him to two languages is keeping him from responding to his name. I can think of other challenges it could create, but that isn't one of them. Quite the opposite, it sounds like he is bathed in language, which has to be very helpful for him.
The bottom line is that this is THEIR child, and if they want to speak to him in two languages, they get to. They don't need the speech therapist's permission. If they need a way to end the conversations with regarding this issue, something along the lines of "I don't feel that statement reflects respect for our cultural background." Or, "We think that problem is caused by him having Down's Syndrome, not being part of a minority culture." Then just sit and stare, and I suspect the speech therapist will find something else to talk about. Like the previous poster, I wonder if this issue is caused by the speech therapist having mostly experience with mono-lingual children and families.
I also agree that alternate means of communication might be very helpful. One of my kiddos at school is 10 and has Downs and is very much a part of his family and community, but he is super difficult to understand (in any language). We continue to work on speech with him, but when the water hits the wheel, he uses American Sign to tell us what is really going on. He understands both English and Spanish, though. One can't help wonder if a child like him does as well as he does BECAUSE he is part of a real community, and he has many many people in his life who value him and accept him for who he is.