I still need wrap up my Structured Word Inquiry series (from last November!) with at least one more post, but some of the more recent twitter chatter on SWI has brought up a broader issue that I thought I’d address first. That would be the question of which aspects of grammar actually need to be taught to students who are native English speakers.
To address this question, it’s useful to draw a distinction between “basic grammar” and “school grammar.”
Basic grammar is the stuff that native speakers, assuming they don’t have language impairments/autism, pick up incidentally without formal instruction. This includes everyday vocabulary, word order, and word endings (morphology), and syllabification. Absent language impairments, native speakers, do not, for example, need to be taught that “crumb” and “crumbs” and “do” and “does” are related, or that we say “no bananas” rather than “no banana”–contrary to what some SWI proponents have suggested on twitter:
Time for my promised close, critical look at specific instances of facilitated communication—FC for short.
But first, a preliminary note. In being critical in what is an extremely sensitive area, I don’t want to reveal names of kids and parents. I’ll provide links to material that’s been made publicly available–stuff posted on the Internet, mostly by or in collaboration with family members. But in what I write here, I’ll be avoiding names or abbreviating them.
It’s now time, in this series on autism, neurodiversity, and language learning, to return to two key criteria for autism in the most recent DSM (the DSM V), each of them tapping into deficits in what’s called Joint Attention:
- Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.
- Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
(I, too, am making a comeback, after suddenly becoming intensely busy with a small NSF grant–more on that later).
This post continues a series I’ve promised would take us to “highly contagious and dangerously inaccurate meme about what autism is.”
(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.
(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: