Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 13. Number 4 December 2022                              Pp.427-442

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Identifying English Language Pragmatic Deficits among Children with Autism: Lessons
from Fatima’s Home

 Shireena Basree Abdul Rahman
 Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA
Selangor, Malaysia

 Faizah A Majid
Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA
Selangor, Malaysia
Corresponding author:


Received:08/17/2022         Accepted:11/23/2022                 Published: 12/15/2022


This article addresses a unique language-learning journey of a special child, ‘Fatima’ who is diagnosed with mild autism or Level One Autism Spectrum Disorder. Taking a qualitative perspective, research based on a series of observations and interviews was conducted on Fatima and her caregivers, namely her mother and her two elder siblings. Fatima was primarily diagnosed as having a learning delay, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and hyperactivity but not speech development. This study aims to look at the English language learning difficulties of a child with mild autism who has been diagnosed with no speech development issues. Findings revealed that communicative pragmatic deficits are an obvious limitation displayed by Fatima as she develops in age. Though Fatima exhibits quite proficient use of the English language, she shoulders pragmatic challenges in communication and still has a long way to be communicatively competent as other teenagers her age. In addition, the commitment and support shown by her family members are also key in aiding both her linguistic and social development.  It is believed the findings could add to what is already known about second language learning among children with autism as perspectives from a ‘home’ as an informal learning institution were observed and analyzed. Family members could benefit the most, as the salient findings could be a source of reference in strategizing their roles in facilitating the language development of a child in the family diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)  through an understanding of pragmatic deficits among children with ASD.
Keywords: Autism, informal learning institution, pragmatic deficits, roles of caregivers, second language learners

Cite as:  Abdul Rahman, S. B., & A Majid, F.  (2022). Identifying English Language Pragmatic Deficits among Children with Autism: Lessons from Fatima’s Home.  Arab World English Journal, 13 (4) 427-442.


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Received: 08/17/2022
Accepted: 11/23/2022 
Published: 12/15/2022   

Shireena Basree Abdul Rahman is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Early Childhood Education at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA. She has a keen interest in early education and her latest research involves an ethnographic study on the learning development of an individual with autism. ORCID ID

Faizah A Majid is a Professor in Adult and Higher Education at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Teknologi MARA. She has vast experience in research and publication in TESL and Higher Education. Recently she is involved in a specially funded project on the use of technology in teaching children with autism. ORCID ID