Went to my daughter’s Parent/Teacher Conference last night. It was pretty cool actually because my daughter is doing quite well. (There are rumors of trying to put her back into the autism classroom rather than the classroom she’s in but that’s not going to happen. I won’t let it.)
One thing that came up in conversation was the progress she was making learning language things and something came to my mind during the conversation.
Has anyone looked at the correlation between child students learning a second language and autistic children learning their first? I asked the teachers but they didn’t recall hearing of anything like that. Many of the traits my daughter exhibits are traits that show a failure of understanding the language as if she already knew the idea behind what she wanted but not how to say it in English.
I’ve noticed that if I ask my daughter to name something that nobody has ever told her the name of she will repeat my question then wait patiently for me to name it then repeat the name back to me. If I ask her to do this three times or so over the next day she will thereafter remember what the object is and what it’s called. Then if it’s something she wants to do something with she immediately knows what word goes with it.
The one thing she never shows is a lack of understanding what the object does if she’s figured out how to use it. If she knows what the object does but not what it’s called she will use generic terms, “I need help.” etc., to get me to the object in question then wait for me to tell her the right word for it. Once she knows the word she will thereafter refer to it using that name. (This of course only happens when my daughter wants my help.)
It’s too early to know if my hypothesis is correct but it’s interesting to observe that repeatable pattern.
Of course my daughter might also be playing me too. “No speak fatherese.” ;-)
So I’ve asked my daughter’s teacher to talk to the English as a Second Language teachers and see if there’s something that they do with children who’ve never learned any English that might help.
Not sure if that’ll turn up anything but we’ll have to wait and see...