Archive for the 'Aspie development and parenting' Category

Aspie language development

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

There is a new, interesting, study on ASD (mostly autism) and language development ( and

The study does a good job in differentiating ASDs from typically developing infants / children, as well as language delayed children. It does this with the help of child developmental theories and automatic classification of sounds in natural settings. It finds three acoustic factors belived to be involved in typical language acquisition, and medium length of utterances, to cluster together and discriminate ASDs from typical development pretty well. It finds that the these same factors show good age-correlation for typically developping children, but not for autistics.

This is all very good, but what does this say about language acquistion in ASDs? I’m afraid it has nothing at all to say about how language acquisition occurs in autism, and even more problematic, it might lead to ASD infants being subjected to intensive ABA programs in order to acquire language like typically developing children.

So, how do autistics acquire language? If they lack babbling, cooing, and largely innate language acqusition traits that just need some parameter adjustments, how exactly do they acquire language? If they largely lack the whole packet of specific adaptations, it seems more like a miracle that any autistic child could acquire language, when the fact is that most eventually do. It seems like they would need some powerful alternative.

Aspie-quiz has a possible clue. Even adult Aspies have a preference to mimick animal sounds. This is part of the Aspie hunting adaptations, that are largely shared with Aspie communication traits. Having absolute pitch is also related to the Aspie phenotype. It seems reasonable that Neanderthal infants would be experimenting with animal vocalizations, as this was a key survival trait. Thus, it could be that Aspie infants have natural predispositions to imitate and exeriment with animal vocalizations. This could provide a way into language acquisition as well. The child could crack the code of language by utilizing it’s expert abilities to dechiffer animal communications.

An additional common difference between neurotypicals and Aspies is how memories are organized. Neurotypicals typically use verbal memories in the left hemisphere while Aspies often use non-verbal memories in the right hemisphere. With non-verbal memories, there is a need for a translator into verbal representation, and finally into utterances. It could be that the whole transformation from non-verbal representation to utterances is learned mechanically by Aspies.

What we would need in a future study is new parameters that are related to mimicking animal sounds, rather than typical language acqusition. Without some parameters in the Aspie populations that show correlation with age, we have no idea how Aspies acquire language.

Building character – how does it relate to Aspies?

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Building character is an interesting publication that can be found here: link.

While most people (including myself) agree that “good character” is an important trait, and that this is a highly wanted outcome for a child, the test used to measure this (SDQ) seems to be highly inappropriate. The SDQ-test is necesarily highly negatively correlated with ADD/ADHD, ASCs and neurodiversity in general. By using this test they will not measure character traits in neurodiverse people in a meaningful way. Still, it is evident that at least some of the traits in SDQ are not inherited traits, but negative outcomes for being neurodiverse and having a bad upbringing, so it could still be relevant for neurodiverse children as long as the objective is not to measure neurodiverse children against neurotypical children.

That said, here are some of the main conclusions:

  1. Attachment has a large positive effect on outcome
  2. Rules and rule inforcement has a smaller effect on outcome, but it has a large negative effect when lack of rules is combined with weak attachment
  3. High self-esteem and sense of control is a strong predictor for good outcome
  4. Depression is a strong predictor of poor outcome
  5. There are extra-sensitive children with “negative temperament”

I think it is a given that attachment and warmth (in contrast to hostility) is a major factor in parenting any child, neurodiverse or not. This could have increasing importance for the neurodiverse child.

It also seems that the section about negative temperaments could very well describe the neurodiverse child which has a strong dislike for authority. They do not elaborate and compare this group of children’s outcomes between the rule-not rule dimension of parenting, which otherwise would be pretty interesting.

High self-esteem, sense of control and depression are things that parents acquire because of their own childhood, environment and life experience, and thus this is a factor that could be transfered from parent to child without being genetic. Problems in this area are also frequently associated with neurodiversity. This is thus a confounding factor that is not genetically related to neurodiversity, but to the discrimination / bad behavior against  neurodiverse people. It is also important to note that improper attitudes from social authorities towards neurodiverse people in some countries like Sweden and Norway could create negative feedback loops when social authorities implement unwanted “help” and persecution of neurodiverse people.

Rules and enforcement of rules is a special case. It is not obvious from the design how the rules are implemented. They only ask participants about how many rules they have, and if they are strictly enforced. This misses out on a very important aspect of rules related to dislike of authority that is related to neurodiversity. At some other place they mentioned a study of consistent use of reward and punishment combined with encouraging autonomy in the child being related to positive outcomes. This research also do not answer the question about only reward and punishment (and especially in relation to dislike for authority).

That reward and punishment is not effective on children with dislike for authority is almost a given. Especially not if rules are made up arbitrarily. In order to make a child with dislike for authority to accept rules, it is necesary for the child to understand the rule, to understand why it exists, and on its own accepting the rule as valid and good. Only when this procedure is used will the child accept the rule, and it will then need no reward or punishment in order to follow it. If it doesn’t accept the rule, no level of reward or punishment can make it accept it, and the child will become difficult and argumentative instead, which could affect the primary parameter of attachment. The best parents of children with dislike for authority tend to be parents that have good attachment and few rules and low enforcement, or that have many rules that the child accepts and few rules the child doesn’t accept.