I found this interesting piece of work describing all the forms of autistic spectrum disorders and verbal communication disorders. It is quite extensive.
The Skills Involved in Communication
In order for us to effectively communicate, we need skill in multiple areas, including (A) verbal and (B) non-verbal arenas.
(A) Verbal/Spoken Communication Skills (may or may not be affected in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD))
bullet Semantic language: The ability to use and understand words, phrases and sentences; including abstract concepts and idioms. Aspects of semantic language include:
bullet Receptive verbal language: The ability to understand spoken words and ideas.
bullet Central Auditory Processing (CAP): A mixed group of abilities needed to process and derive meaning from sounds and words; including the abilities to distinguish between similar sounds, and to pick out the main voice from background. In short,what we do with what we hear.
bullet Expressive verbal language: The ability to express our ideas with spoken words.
bullet Articulation: The ability to speak each word clearly.
(B) Non-Verbal/Non-Spoken Communication Skills (Problematic in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD))
bulletUrge to initiate shared social interaction and two-way communication: Theory of Mind.
The ability to socialize/relate/empathize requires a working Theory of Mind. Theory of mind refers to the relatively unique ability of humans to understand: (1)that I have a mind, (2) that you have a mind; and most importantly, (3) that our minds may not know or be feeling the same things. Without a theory of mind, there is little point in communicating. After all, who would you be communicating to? There is limited ability to truly recognize that there is another human being in the room. It will be difficult to feel the need to communicate with anyone else. It may seem as if there is a plane of glass between the child and others. Eye contact will be poor.
With limited ability to get inside your mind, it will be frequently difficult for the child to demonstrate empathy for what you are feeling. For example, a child with theory of mind problems may assume that since he is happy, then you must be happy; or the child may not understand that someone else is deceptive when his own mind always attempts honesty.
Thus, the ability to recognize that you have a mind, the ability to relate to that mind, and the ability to empathize with that mind are all parts of the same skill. It is felt that theory of mind problems underlie many of the difficulties seen in the Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
Closely related to the interest in social communication (that arises from a working theory of mind) are the following skills. They are required to actually achieve the meaningful interaction. Certainly, if you dont have these skills, your ability to appear interested in social interaction may become blunted.
Pragmatic language: The practical ability to use language in a social setting, such as knowing what is appropriate to say, where and when to say it; and the give and take nature of conversation. Effective pragmatics requires a working theory of mind: the ability to figure out what the other person does or does not already knowor might or might not be interested in hearing about. Examples of pragmatic language/theory of mind problems would be:
A new student moves into the school district and enters the classroom for the first time. The teacher asks him where he comes from. The Autistic Spectrum child responds: From the hallway.
As an Aspergers child walks into the office, the doctor notices that her pink shirt matches the color of her jacket. He jokes, If you change into a green shirt, does the color of the jacket change, too? The child responds: My wardrobe includes a turquoise shirt, not a green one. This childs spoken language is precise, but she misses (1) the actual meaning of the question; and more importantly, (2) misses that the whole purpose of this conversation was just a little fun chit-chat to initiate an interaction.
The skill to know what isand what is notimportant
Ability to see the big picture rather than fixate on details Ability to maintain a full range of interests.
Symbolic play skills
Give a child a yellow box on wheels, with thin long black strips on it. The ability to understand that this object actually represents a school bus is a type of communicationjust like the ability to recognize that the letters C-A-T stand for a furry animal. Both involve the use of symbols rather than the actual object to communicate.
By 18 months, most toddlers start to use objects as symbols for something else. For example, a cup is for drinking, but it also makes quite a handy telephone. By 3 years of age, most children are quite good at lets pretend activities, such as You be the cowboy! The toy school bus is not fascinating because the cold metal box can move, but because little toy figures chat while getting on it as they go to school. Stuffed animals are not just warm rags of cloth to drag around, but living creatures that have feelings and needs.
So, by 18-36 months of age, typical children make continuous progress in the skill of appreciating the representational meaning of a toy, rather than focusing on its straight forward visual attributes. Failure to develop representational/symbolic/pretend play is a strong marker of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. After all, if you cannot understand that a physical toy bus represents a real truck, how could you understand that the even more purely representational sound bus represents a real truck.
Non-verbal (non-spoken) transmission of language. The simple sounds are not the only thing my body sends through space when it attempts to communicate with you. It also transmits:
Tone and prosidy of voice
· Associated skills sometimes also involved with language problems:
o Motor (muscle) coordination, including both gross and fine motor.
o Spatial orientation.
o Overall cognition.