Speech and Oral Discourse in a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case Study of Spontaneous Bilingualism. Part II: Psycholinguistic Assessment

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Abstract

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.

General Information

Keywords: childhood autism, language acquisition, grammar impairment, vocabulary, linguistic pragmatics, oral discourse, narrative, spontaneous bilingualism

Journal rubric: Research of ASD

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/autdd.2023210203

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

Received: 28.01.2023

Accepted:

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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Information About the Authors

Ingrida Balciuniene, PhD, Associated Professor, Department of Logopathology, Saint Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University, Associated Professor, Department of Logopathology, , St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8307-1108, e-mail: ingrimi@gmail.com

Alexander N. Kornev, Doctor of Psychology, PhD in Medicine, Professor, Head of the Department of Logopathology, Head of the Laboratory of Neurocognitive Technologies, Saint Petersburg State Academy of Pediatric Medicine, Teacher at the Institute of Practical Psychology "Imaton", St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6406-1238, e-mail: k1949@yandex.ru

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