Speech and Oral Discourse in a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study of Spontaneous Bilingualism. Part II: Psycholinguistic Assessment
Objectives. Pronounced disharmony in verbal communication development is considered a typical developmental feature in infantile autism, however, its manifestations and mechanisms have not yet been studied enough; extremely little is known about the qualitative features of speech development and the psycholinguistic characteristics of the language abilities of such children. A dissociation between the semantic-pragmatic and structural-functional components of language development has been reported; however, this feature has significant individual variability in different forms of autism. The aim of the current paper is to introduce a longitudinal study of the speech development in a child with autism accompanied by the phenomenon of spontaneous bilingualism in a monolingual family.
Methods. A case of a Lithuanian monolingual boy with early childhood autism is presented, who at the age of 4 years independently began to learn English, which resulted by the end of preschool age in the unbalanced bilingualism with a preference for L2. Longitudinal follow-up included 3 complex clinical examinations of the intellectual and language abilities (at 4, 6 and 8 years) and a psycholinguistic study of language skills in Lithuanian and English at the age of 7years. A battery of tests for assessing grammar, impressive and expressive vocabulary, and skills of personal discourse (story-telling and participating in dialogue-reasoning) was employed.
Results. In both languages, a deficiency in the pragmatic competence of story-telling and participating in dialogue-reasoning was revealed; however, lexical and grammatical errors occurred mainly in the native (Lithuanian) language. The study evidenced a deficit of verb expressive vocabulary, especially in Lithuanian language. Comprehension of complex grammatical constructions was impaired in the Lithuanian language to a greater extent than in English. To sum up, the results evidenced a partial compensation for the structural and functional impairment, but the persistence of a deficit in the pragmatics of speech.
Conclusions. The case study illustrates the special nature of speech development in a child with autism and a unique phenomenon of spontaneous bilingualism in a monolingual family.
Keywords: childhood autism, language acquisition, grammar impairment, vocabulary, linguistic pragmatics, oral discourse, narrative, spontaneous bilingualism
Journal rubric: Research of ASD
Article type: scientific article
Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 19-29-14078
Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful for assistance in data collection parents of the child studied
For citation: Balciuniene I., Kornev A.N. Speech and Oral Discourse in a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study of Spontaneous Bilingualism. Part II: Psycholinguistic Assessment. Autizm i narusheniya razvitiya = Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2023. Vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 15–24. DOI: 10.17759/autdd.2023210203. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)
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