Language Abilities of Russian Primary-School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from Comprehensive Assessment

Abstract

The purpose of the present research was to comprehensively assess the language abilities of Russian primary-school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), varying in non-verbal IQ, at all linguistic levels (phonology, lexicon, morphosyntax, and discourse) in production and comprehension. Yet, the influence of such non-language factors as children’s age, the severity of autistic traits, and non-verbal IQ on language functioning was studied. Our results indicate a high variability of language skills in children with ASD (from normal to impaired) which is in line with the previous studies. Interestingly, the number of children with normal language abilities was related to the linguistic levels: according to more complex morphosyntax and discourse tests, fewer children with ASD were within the normal range unlike the results in simpler phonological and lexical tests. Importantly, we found that language abilities were best predicted by non-verbal IQ but were independent from age and the severity of autistic traits. The findings support the claim that formal language assessment of children with ASD needs to include all linguistic levels, from phonology to discourse, for helping speech-language therapists to choose an appropriate therapy target.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Extended information on each test with examples is available online: https://osf.io/uaxrd/.

  2. 2.

    Detailed information on scoring is available online: https://osf.io/x8hty/.

  3. 3.

    The tables with the model outcomes for all tests are available online: https://osf.io/bcvn8/.

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Acknowledgments

The study has been funded by the Center for Language and Brain NRU Higher School of Economics, RF Government Grant ag. № 14.641.31.0004. Special thanks go to all of the children who enthusiastically participated in the experiments.

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Conceptualization: VA, AL, OD; Methodology: VA, AL, OD; Investigation: VA, AM, AS, ED, DP, AS, ST, UM, KD; Data curation: VA, AM; Formal analysis: VA, AL; Writing—Original Draft: VA; Writing—Review & Editing: AL, OD; Project administration: VA; Resources: OD. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vardan Arutiunian.

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Arutiunian, V., Lopukhina, A., Minnigulova, A. et al. Language Abilities of Russian Primary-School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from Comprehensive Assessment. J Autism Dev Disord (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-04967-0

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Keywords

  • Language abilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Language production
  • Language comprehension
  • Russian