To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
We aim to raise awareness of the existence and value of autistic doctors in psychiatry and to also signpost psychiatrists who are or suspect they might be autistic towards peer support.
Autism refers to a lifelong difference in how people communicate and interact with the world. These differences lead to strengths and challenges with individual profiles which include special interests, hyper-focus, and often sensory differences and anxiety. Autism has an estimated prevalence of 1-2%, which is likely an underestimate. It was noted that there was little in the way of advocacy for autistic doctors around the world. Anecdotal evidence also suggested possible issues of misunderstanding and stigmatisation of autistic doctors. As such, there was a need to tackle this to promote positive change. MD founded the group Autistic Doctors International (ADI) in 2019 to foster camaraderie, advocacy and support. ADI has flourished with 250+ members currently. In a recent member poll, 24 of 180 respondents identified themselves as psychiatrists – second only to general practice (n = 54). Several other consultant psychiatrists are known to self-identify as autistic but have not formally joined due to the fear of disclosure. The group has additionally supported multiple doctors to tackle prejudice and discrimination in the workplace / training environment. It has also brought together autistic doctors with academic interests and has generated multiple academic outputs in the form of publications, research grants and conference posters/papers regarding autism.
Psychiatrists, and doctors in general, are a self-selecting group for many autistic strengths such as hyper-focus, curiosity, self-motivation, a desire to study social communication, attention to detail, pattern recognition, problem solving and empathy, which, contrary to prevailing stereotypes, can be marked in autism. The increasing numbers of doctors joining ADI supports the assumption that autistic individuals are safe and effective clinicians. It is worth noting that many members are not ‘doctors in difficulty’. Those who have been able to achieve suitable accommodations, often without realising why they were needed, have flourished. Such accommodations and outcomes are in line with the neurodiversity movement, which promotes a view of autism as difference, rather than pure disability or disorder. This aims to challenge stereotypes and the tragedy narrative surrounding autism.
Autism awareness is increasing amongst doctors but more open discussion is still needed in order to facilitate appropriate peer and workplace support. This is likely to improve mental wellbeing and resilience for autistic psychiatrists.
Post 15.1 relates my interview with one of the greatest minds of our time, Noam Chomsky. The topics concerned whether there is a difference between monolinguals and bilinguals, whether you can lose a first language or not, the permanent influence of a second language on a first language, and why it is that bilinguals have been studied much less than monolinguals by theoretical linguists.
Post 15.2 is an interview with me conducted by Aneta Pavlenko to celebrate my fifty years in the field of bilingualism. I answer questions regarding my upbringing, the countries I lived in, the bilingual’s language modes, how the field of bilingualism has changed over these years, and the areas I would suggest younger colleagues delve into.
In early June 2010, Carlin Flora, a Senior Editor for the New York based, Psychology Today, wrote to me to ask me if she could interview me after having read my new book, Bilingual: Life and Reality. We emailed back and forth concerning the matter and then, a few days later, she asked me, “I wonder if you’d like your own blog on bilingualism? . …. The website gets two million visitors per month.”
The posts here will help set the stage for many of those that follow in later chapters. In Post 1.1, it is shown how language proficiency has ceded its place to language use when defining bilingualism. Bilinguals are now seen as those who use two or more languages (or dialects) in everyday life.
Parents of children with additional or special needs often want guidance on whether their children can become bilingual, or remain bilingual, despite the challenges they have. They often consult professionals such as doctors, psychologists, speech and language pathologists, educators, and so on and many come away with words of warning. Bilingualism might have consequences on the development of their child they are told erroneously: it may delay the acquisition of the majority language, cause a burden for the child, create language confusion, and so on. And sometimes, they are encouraged to concentrate on just one language, the majority language, and give up the minority or home language. One can only be extremely concerned by this kind of feedback and over the years I have prepared posts on the topic, very often with the help of specialists. They are the object of this chapter.
In this chapter, several facets of emotions in bilinguals are addressed, such as how they are expressed and processed, but also how they can be brought about by different languages and cultures, as well as by other bilinguals. In Post 10.1, the myth that bilinguals always express their emotions in their first language is discussed and it is shown that, in fact, there are no set rules. In Post 10.2, Aneta Pavlenko, an expert on the question, asks whether we process emotions differently in our respective languages. Even when the levels of proficiency are comparable, she writes, languages learned earlier and later in life offer different processing advantages.
Post 9.4 concerns a dimension of becoming bicultural, that of discovering hidden aspects of the host culture that you have to be introduced to. In it, I relate how my family and I discovered Thanksgiving by first being invited to the celebration by an American family. Then, over the years, we made it into a family event.
In this chapter, we start with second language learning in school and then progressively move to older learners of foreign languages. Post 8.1 presents a quick review of the way second languages are acquired in the school setting. From a subject taught in a rather formal way, the second language is increasingly becoming a medium of instruction through immersion and dual-language teaching.
Post 8.2 is an interview with Dr. Fabrice Jaumont who has played a leadership role in establishing dual-language programs in the public school system in the New York area. The movement is led from the bottom-up by families who want their children to acquire a second language in a more natural way.
One can become bilingual at any time during one’s life, as a child, an adolescent, or an adult. This is explained in Post 5.1 and the factors that make bilingualism possible are enumerated. Research, however, has concentrated on childhood bilingualism, and in particular on children who acquire two languages simultaneously. They will be the object of many of the posts in this chapter.
The first two posts ask a fundamental question: Does the state of activation of the bilingual’s languages change – both are active or only one is active – depending on factors such as the proximity of words in the two languages, the interlocutor’s language knowledge, and the situation? Post 11.1 describes a production study that shows that the bilingual processing system can indeed operate in different activation states.
Post 6.1 sets the stage for many of the posts in this chapter. It proposes five factors that parents want to consider when planning the bilingualism of their children. They relate to when the second language should be introduced, which bilingual strategy to use with them, whether there will be a real need for each language, what the type and amount of input will be for each language, and what other support parents will be able to count on.
In Post 2.2, the difficulty in obtaining clear data on the number of bilinguals in different countries is discussed. Two examples are given. In the first, the United States, which does not address bilingualism as such in its census or annual surveys, asks three language questions that allow one to obtain a fairly good estimation of the number of bilinguals. In the second, it is shown how Switzerland has a more restrictive view of bilingualism. This impacts the number of bilinguals the census reports on.
Special bilinguals have both a regular and a unique relationship with their languages. Some, such as teachers, translators, and interpreters, make a living from their extensive knowledge and careful use of their languages. Others, such as airline pilots and traffic controllers, or foreign correspondents, do not have to reflect on them as much but cannot do their jobs without their other language(s) and specific skills. And others still, such as bilingual writers, express their art in a second or third language, or in both their languages. This chapter is a tribute to all these bilinguals.
When people talk about the bilingual mind, one of the very first things they ask is what language bilinguals think in. It is only natural therefore that this topic be studied in Post 12.1. The answer is much more complex than one would have thought at first but also much more interesting.
Research on the bilingual brain uses many approaches such as doing experiments with EEG (electroencephalogram), employing brain imaging techniques, and studying multilingual aphasia. These will be touched upon in this chapter.
Post 13.1 presents an impact on the results found.
Post 3.1 concentrates on language choice, a fascinating but also complex phenomenon that is governed by numerous factors. Post 3.2, on the same topic, examines non accommodation, that is, those instances when bilinguals use different languages with one another when normally they would have agreed on speaking the same language. And Post 3.3 looks at cases where bilinguals simply refuse to speak one of their languages on a more permanent basis. Various reasons – political, social, linguistic, communicative – explain this behavior.