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Main page » Coursebooks » Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind

Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind


  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (March 24, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195159918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195159912
  • Author : Janet Wilde Astington
    Speaking as someone with both a Masters in Linguistics and a child on the Autism spectrum who will likely not develop Theory of Mind without assistance, I found answers to many questions I wanted answered.

    It was most enlightening to see the predictor of TOM in kids on the spectrum, as well as studies from deaf people which supported the notion that language (especially for spectrum kids) plays a crucial roles.

    It's especially interesting to me that the consultant/agency I used for my child's early intervention program considered my son all-caught-up in his language skills while he still had not mastered what research in this book considers the prerequisite to TOM. As such, this book provided a new direction for us.

    While, in fact, early intervention programs do make use of the structures shown to be critical in the research in this book, I feel that the comprehensive view of how TOM is acquired that this book presents may shed new light and illuminate a better path towards helping TOM acquisition in children where it does not necessarily occur naturally (though this book does show how/when it does in that group of children).

    While it is easy for me as an educator to see what should be done based on the research, this is not a how-to for parents. I would suggest that all people who intend to work with children on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum be required to fully understand and discuss the implications of the findings.

    I would also suggest that all agencies/early intervention programs re-evaluate and justify their "not modeling" the type of language that the research in this work suggests. The owner of one such agency suggested to me that "we don't want kids sounding like they have Theory of Mind if, it turns out, they don't" (because it makes the job of evaluating whether they do or not -- and whether or not intervention should continue -- more difficult). The research in this book, though, suggests that acquisition of TOM is made possible through understanding and use of specific linguistic elements which modeling helps to be acquired. Clearly the field needs to look at this research carefully and debate what the implications are.

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    Tags: Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind, Language, language, ToMlanguage, contributing, debate, language, Theory