Academic Success in Autism: The impact of emotions and multilingualism


CALL: 2019

DOMAIN: SC - Education and Learning





HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: academic performance, cognitive performance, autism spectrum disorder, emotional ability, multilingualism, psychology, education, Luxembourg

START: 2020-06-01



Submitted Abstract

It is the aim of every education department to allow all children to reach their full potential and succeed academically. However, academic success is determined by numerous individual and socio-economic factors that are difficult to control and some children end up performing worse than their capacities would predict. Many of these cases are children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Children with ASD, particularly those with average or above average IQ, often have worse academic outcomes than expected given their cognitive abilities. The consequences of this can be lower grades, frequent changes of school, school exclusion, redirection towards special education schools, and dropping out of school. These have consequences to the well-being of the child and have repercussions into their adolescence and adulthood. The academic under achievement of children with ASD represents thus a societal challenge that needs to be tackled.Even though the research on the reasons for the academic under achievement of children with ASD is scarce, it may be due to external factors such as pedagogical practices or individual factors such as the children’s socio-emotional difficulties. Indeed, research with typically developing children shows that problems with emotion regulation are linked to impairments in cognitive processes that lead to poorer academic performance and children with ASD have frequent emotion regulation difficulties. Furthermore, teachers report that children with ASD present frequent behavioural and emotional problems in the classroom.In addition, language and cognitive processes are interconnected and emotions can foster that relation. Therefore, proficiency in different languages and the language in which multilingual children express their emotions may have an impact on cognitive processes such as children’s memory. Given Luxembourg’s multilingual context, it is the ideal platform to understand the potential effects emotions and language can have in children’s cognitive and academic performance.The aim of the ASA project is thus to first assess the link between emotional ability and multilingualism, to cognitive and academic performance among children with ASD as compared to typically developing children. Second, it aims to understand how the expression of emotions in different languages (mother tongue vs second language) can affect the academic and cognitive performance of children. The results of the ASA project will enable to better understand factors affecting the academic underachievement of children with ASD and define strategies to tackle it.

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