Delayed Speech Development and Academic Performance of Autistic Learners in Special Schools in Bungoma County, Kenya



Academic Performance, Delayed Speech Development, Nonverbal Reliance, Repeating Words and Phrases, Speech Impediment, Underdeveloped Vocabulary


All learners have the right to education free from discrimination based on disability, gender, race, religion, or social status, as mandated by international, regional, and national rights instruments. However, autistic learners in special schools in Kenya face persistent challenges including limited social integration, decreased self-esteem, and heightened dependency on support services, prompting significant concerns. Thus, the objective of the study was to investigate the influence of delayed speech development on academic performance of autistic learners in special schools in Bungoma County, Kenya.  The specific objectives were to: Determine the influence of underdeveloped vocabulary on academic performance of autistic learners in special schools in Bungoma County, Kenya; establish the influence of speech impediment on academic performance of autistic learners in special schools in Bungoma County, Kenya; examine the influence of nonverbal reliance on academic performance of autistic learners in special schools in Bungoma County, Kenya; and assess the influence of repeating words and phrases on academic performance of autistic learners in special schools in Bungoma County, Kenya. The study was guided by Martin h. Kutscher’s theory of mind. It employed a descriptive survey research design involving a target population of 213 individuals, which included 26 Head Teachers and 187 teachers from special schools, with a sample size of 140 individuals comprising 17 Head Teachers and 123 teachers. Stratified random sampling was utilized to categorize head teachers and teachers into distinct groups. Data was collected using questionnaires and interview guides, and instrument reliability was confirmed through a pilot study, yielding a Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient of 0.77, indicating high reliability. Quantitative data underwent descriptive and inferential statistical analyses, presented in tables, while qualitative data was analyzed to identify common themes, which were systematically organized and discussed within the study’s main objectives. The study findings revealed a statistically significant correlation between communicative difficulties, encompassing aspects such as delayed speech development and autistic learners’ academic performance Pearson Chi-square=311.995, p<0.05). Therefore, it is advised that education policymakers develop and implement comprehensive guidelines and support systems to address delayed speech development, challenges in using gestures, difficulties in understanding nonverbal cues, and maintaining conversational exchanges.


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How to Cite

Shiundu, S., & Kikechi, R. W. (2024). Delayed Speech Development and Academic Performance of Autistic Learners in Special Schools in Bungoma County, Kenya. African Journal of Empirical Research, 5(3), 119–129.