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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre

The Effect of Bilingualism on the Linguistic and Cognitive Development of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Drasco Kascelan (Dept of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics), under the supervision of Dr Napoleon Katsos (DTAL) and Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education)

My research aims to investigate certain aspects of cognition and pragmatics in bilingual children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Specifically, while neurotypical bilinguals tend to show advantages in pragmatic competence, executive functions, and the Theory of Mind, monolingual individuals with autism seem to be impaired in these areas. In general, families who live in bilingual communities are not encouraged to raise their children with ASC bilingually. This is mainly due to the perceived detrimental effects of bilingualism. However, current literature lacks research on bilingual children with ASC, which makes it hard to conclude what the real effects of bilingualism are on cognition and language development in children with ASC. Hence, this study will examine these aspects of language and cognitive development so as to give a clearer picture of bilingualism in relation to ASC. 


The Linguistic and Cognitive Development of Bilingual Children with Attention Deficit Disorders

Curtis Sharma (Dept of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics), under the supervision of Dr Napoleon Katsos (DTAL) and Dr Jenny Gibson (Faculty of Education)

Broadly, my research aims to examine the interaction between bilingualism and traits of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in primary school-aged children. One the one hand, I want to find out how this interaction affects aspects of language learning and use, such as pragmatics. On the other hand, ADHD has been linked to deficits in high-level executive functions (for example, attention, working memory, and inhibition) in the brain, which in turn appear to be enhanced in bilinguals. I aim to examine whether enhanced executive functions have any impact on any type or aspect of ADD evident in bilingual children as described above. The vast majority of the literature focuses on ADD in monolinguals, with very little research investigating the intersection of bilingual studies and ADD. Hopefully, this new and exciting investigation will not only add to our understanding of the area, but also yield some benefit to at least some individuals with ADD.


What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.