(Part VII in a series of posts that will soon take us to a highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.)
In my previous posts, I’ve made the following points:
–How much language you acquire, including how much language you comprehend, is correlated with how much attention you’ve paid, over the years, to other people’s speech and to what they are looking at and doing when speaking.
–Deficits in these attention behaviors, which are examples of what’s called Joint Attention, are among the core symptoms of autism. (If you don’t have deficits here, the diagnosis doesn’t apply).
–Therefore, the ability to acquire language and understand what other people saying is correlated with the severity of autism.
A core principle we were taught at Morningside Academy’s Summer School Institute: whenever you introduce a concept, you must always provide not only examples, but nonexamples, as well, especially what Kent Johnson called “close-in nonexamples.”
A close-in nonexample is close but no cigar.
(Part VI in a series of posts that will soon take us to a highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.)
In my previous post, I discussed how there might be factors besides Joint Attention deficits that could contribute to the failure to acquire spoken language. As I wrote:
I need to follow up on the SAT question I brought up the other day, but first: colons.
I see I’ve just broken the colon rule I was trying to explain to my student last night.
Oh, well. You’re supposed to break the colon rule, writing blog posts.
(Part V in a series of posts that will eventually take us to a highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.)
My previous post drew a connection between the severity of autism (whose diagnostic measures include Joint Attention behaviors) and the severity of the language impairment associated with autism. This connection, I suggested, explains why a significant proportion of people on the spectrum (somewhere around 25%) are nonverbal.
(Part IV in a series of posts that will eventually take us to a highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.)
So in my previous posts on the subject (starting here), I discussed how Receptive Joint Attention
correlates with language learning, and how reduced Receptive Joint Attention behaviors impede the acquisition of both spoken and written language. When RJA behaviors are at a minimum, so is the amount of language learned–whether we’re talking about spoken or written language.
What does any of this have to do with autism?
I had intended to post the next installment in my series on autism, neurodiversity, and language learning this past week, but I suddenly found myself otherwise occupied.
In short, while the rest of the country was riveted to the he-said she-said testimony on Capitol Hill, I was assessing much more disturbing he-said she-said testimony here in Philadelphia as a juror in state court.
As I just wrote to a friend, the silver lining was the deliberation process, which partially revived my faith in humanity. The capacity for thoughtful, meaningful dialogue among randomly assembled strangers with different backgrounds, and the capacity for thoughtful consideration of competing sides to a story, have not completely vanished.
These capacities, by the way, are desperately needed not just in assessing he-said she-said situations and in discussing hot-button political issues, but also within the world of autism—something I’ll eventually get to.