Language Practices in the UAE: Perspectives of Arab Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders


  • Manar Bakhsh


This study investigated the language practices of 4 Emirati bilingual Arabic/Emirati mothers with their children with autism spectrum disorder. The study aimed to explore (1) the nature of the language practices (2) their limitations and (3) the mothers’ perceptions on bilingualism and home-language. The author conducted semi-structured interviews with thematic and narrative analysis to produce themes. Participants reported that they perceived English to be valuable for their children’s education and future. Arabic was valued for its direct connection to the Quran and Islamic teachings and it was perceived as essential in maintaining familial relationships. The mothers had high aspirations for their children and believed that adopting a bilingual approach would facilitate their success and acceptance in society. These beliefs were reinforced by professionals. Although all of the participants valued Arabic, they did not pursue teaching it. Furthermore, they believed that their children will acquire and maintain Arabic solely through family interactions and unstructured Islamic teachings. The language practices of Emirati parents with children with ASD are influenced by the recommendations of professionals and recent rapid changes in the country’s linguistic environment. More Professionals should be better educated about matters related to home-language and its impact on the children and their families. Future research should include parents with older children and more complex language. Additionally, future research should target professionals in the UAE and their perceptions about bilingualism.




How to Cite

Bakhsh, M. (2020). Language Practices in the UAE: Perspectives of Arab Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(2), 55–83. Retrieved from



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