Brief Report: Unexpected Bilingualism: A Case of a Russian Child With ASD

Marina A. Zhukova, Oksana I. Talantseva, Iuliia An, Elena L. Grigorenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) demonstrate unusual islets of abilities or “splinter skills” that represent relative strengths in their development. In this paper we present a clinical case of an 11-year-old Russian boy with ASD who spontaneously acquired the English language. While the child demonstrated language deficits in both English and Russian, the discrepancy between the languages was paradoxical given the lack of exposure to English language. This case study brings into question the importance of a language environment for children with ASD. Alternative pathway to language acquisition is discussed. We hypothesize that that incidental second language acquisition in children with ASD resulting from media exposure could become more frequent with the availability of the Internet.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
StateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2021

Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • ASD
  • Bilingualism
  • Incidental language acquisition
  • Splinter skills


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