Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Enhancing Relationships through Speech
and Language Intervention

Christine Bate

The first two chapters of the book illustrated the central role of communciation in all aspects of the child's life. Both spoken language and nonverbal language such as facial expression and body language are essential elements of our ability to function in our society. Since difficulty with the social use of language is one of the defining characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome, this chapter will focus on ways of helping the child use language to communicate with others and engage in social interactions.

During the diagnostic process, parents' attention is drawn to the way their child communicates. A thorough evaluation will have included observation of the child's use of language to communicate in various settings, in addition to the parent and teacher checklists that are used. A test of pragmatic skills may also have been administered, although these are not as informative as observation of the child in real life situations, especially with the younger children in the age range we are addressing. A standardized test presents the child with a situation that involves the social use of language and asks what he would or should do. The situation is described either verbally or in a picture and, for the purposes of scoring the child's response, it has to be a single isolated event. This leads to a stimulus sentence such as [Arturo didn't like the sandwich his mother had made for him. What should he say?] or, while being shown a picture of a group of children playing a ball game and a boy approaching them with a bat, [Jimmy wants to join the game. What should he say?] The social situations that children with AS have difficulty negotiating are usually more complex than this and they occur while other activities are going on, as

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