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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pragmatic skills of bilingual and monolingual children with autism spectrum disorder Lam, Tracy Cheuk Sze


Although the pragmatic aspect of language is a major deficit in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is limited research on the effects of bilingualism on social communication in this population. This study aimed to investigate the influence of bilingualism on pragmatic skills in children with ASD by comparing the pragmatic skills of 8.5 – 9 year old monolingual and bilingual children with autism. The two groups were compared on scores from the Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC-2; Bishop, 2006), scores from the Expression, Reception and Recall of Narrative Instrument protocol (ERRNI; Bishop, 2004), and scores from the ERRNI storytelling narrative transcript. No significant differences were found between the monolingual and bilingual children with ASD on any of the measures of pragmatic skills. Specifically, the two groups performed similarly on the ERRNI protocol, which examined the children’s ability to convey main ideas in a storytelling task and to answer comprehension questions. They also had comparable ERRNI transcript scores, which measured the length of the transcript; lexical and grammatical errors in the transcript; and the children’s ability to use causal statements, clear references and evaluative devices. The comparable performance on all measures of pragmatic skills between the two groups suggests that bilingualism may not impede the development of pragmatic skills in children with ASD.

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