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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of bilingualism on the cognitive and phonological awareness skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Pereda, Maciel Andrea


To date, the literature on the effects of bilingualism on the language development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is limited. The few studies which do exist have indicated that bilingualism does not negatively impact the linguistic development of children on the Autism spectrum. The current study explored whether the cognitive and linguistic advantages that have been observed in typically developing bilingual children also exist in school-age, English-Chinese bilingual children with ASD. Two groups of children were recruited for this study: a monolingual group and a bilingual group. The monolingual group consisted of English-speaking children with an average age of 6.58 years (n = 8). The bilingual group consisted of English-Chinese bilingual children with an average age of 7.20 years (n = 6). This study used the Simon task in order to evaluate attentional control and a series of three phonological awareness (PA) tasks in order to evaluate metalinguistic skills. Results indicated no differences between the groups’ accuracy and RTs on the Simon task. Additionally, no differences were observed between the groups’ performance on the PA tasks. Correlational analyses between the two groups indicated that the bilingual participants’ performance on the Simon task was consistently related to their non-verbal scores and language skills (both English and Chinese). Although the findings from this study do not provide evidence for the existence of a bilingual advantage in children with ASD, they do highlight the need for continued research in the area of bilingualism and its effect on the linguistic and cognitive skills of children with ASD.

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