They say the best time to learn a second language is when you are a child. But parents of children on the Autism spectrum are often warned against doing this because it is thought it could add to their difficulties. Often Autistic children have a hard time chopping between tasks.
When you speak multiple languages, you have to be able to switch between them unconsciously. Your brain has to have the flexibility to process the difference in the two languages and allow you to speak in the dialect you need at the time.
Recent research has shown that learning a second language is actually beneficial and can increase cognitive flexibility.
This evidence has come about from a small study that was conducted with 40 children between the ages of 6 and 9. 20 were bilingual and 20 could only speak one language. The children were asked to sort objects by colour and by shape. The bilingual children did significantly better than the rest.
Because of the exciting results this study produced, further in depth research is now underway. If the notion that being bilingual can help the cognitive flexibility of children, then the implications could be huge!