since thinking about T's struggles with the word 'or,' I've also been wondering (not for the first time) about how he expresses negation. If Simon approached him and he wanted Simon to leave him alone, for example, instead of expressing that he did NOT want Simon to touch him, etc., he would say "want Simon to run." It's true he often says "don't want any" if I offer him something, but I think it's scripted, just a memorized phrase. I coached it by saying "you don't want any?" every time he rejected something (this took probably months, by the way). After many months of effort, he is starting to be able to use the word 'no,' but I suspect this may be scripted too. I made up games and songs and stories involving things I knew he already knew the answer to. I pointed to something blue, for example, and said, "is it orange?" "Noooo." "is it purple?" "Noooo." "Is it blue? Yes! Yes, it is blue!" I did with other things he loves and knows, like letters and numbers. Also names of people. Animals. Really, anything he knew the label for. But even when started to get that right, he didn't immediately get how it applied when I asked him, for example, if he wanted something. He's getting it now, but it has been hard.
And so I guess, in case there ever were any question about it, that T really does have autism. I found an abstract to a 1978 article called Linguistic negation in autistic and normal children:
"Young, severely maladaptive autistic children with some speech competence were compared to normally developing 3-year-old children of lower and middle class and 5-year-olds of lower class on negation tasks. All subjects were shown 12 sets of cards depicting negative contrasts designed to elicit semantic categories of nonexistence, denial, and rejection and were tested for production, imitation, and comprehension. Syntactic and semantic analysis revealed that autistic children were superior imitators and poor producers but showed skills in comprehension comparable to a 4-year-old's level of functioning. While retarded in some functions, the experimental group produced syntactic structures that were more rigid, suggesting the significantly greater use of imitation as a major strategy in linguistic coding."
I could have gone all day long without seeing the word "retarded." Do you know what I mean? Ah, the good-old 70s. While the grown ups were talking about love and peace, some of us lived in mortal fear of being accused of riding to school on the "special bus." Ah, third grade.
But I digress. (Who me? never!)
So, I try to find out more. I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew, yet again. I got this tantalizing power point in which every other word is some sort of specialized jargon. Oh, if only I could just download some sort of glossary into my brain so I could read this stuff. But I learn there is something called "intraverbal" behavior that these people seem to claim is somehow teachable. I think? and it's related to having problems with negation. Maybe some day I can figure it out.
Thoughts on Newtown
5 years ago