Expressivity in Physically and Emotionally Handicapped Children
Tiffany Field University of Miami School of Medicine
Handicapped children, like nonhandicapped children, have individual differences in their expressivity. But additional constraints, both physical and social, work against the communication value of their expressivity. It is more difficult to read their emotions, harder to understand their gestures, and difficult to encourage their natural expressivity because they sometimes look and sound abnormal. In this review of our research on expressivity in physically and emotionally handicapped children, I discuss some of the constraints posed by genetic predispositions, biological or handicapping condition limitations, preschool and other environmental influences, and potential neurochernical influences.
Expressivity differs among individuals as early as birth. These individual differences may relate to temperament, autonomic reactivity, and neurochemical differences. Infants' expressivity and electrodermal responses to stimuli such as rats, buzzers, and bells were studied by Jones ( 1950). Consistent patterns of expressivity and autonomic reactivity were noted, patterns that Jones labeled internalizer,externalizer, and generalizer (see Fig. 1.1 for model). Internalizers had frequent galvanic responses but were not overtly expressive, whereas externalizers were overtly expressive but had