Friday, July 1, 2011

Language Issues - Key Elements on Your Autism Symptoms Checklist

When going through your mental autism symptoms checklist, there are many things that you should look for. One such thing is the child's use of language.

Odd Use of Language - a Classic Symptom in Kids With Autism

Kids with autism tend to use language in a very odd kind of way. Some take a while to say anything. Others will reverse pronouns, saying "You want a cookie" when they mean that they want a cookie.

Echolalia is Another Autism Symptom to Look For

Echolalia means that a child repeats sentences and phrases that they have heard from TV shows or movies in order to communicate. They can often memorize whole passages, and later on will quote them at whim or in response to a question.

Many times, the echolalic response does not make sense in regards to the question, but often a child will have what is sometimes called "functional echolalia," where the responses will actually answer the question, but albeit in a very bizarre way. This stems from the child's inability to come up with their own original sentences and language, so they try to use things they've heard other places to answer.

On your checklist of autism symptoms note this pattern. Ask yourself, "Can my child create original sentences easily or does he or she mirror what they hear?"

Many times this autism symptom is just seen as cute and sometimes this symptom can be missed if the echolalic phrases don't seem to out of the ordinary. It is not that the child doesn't have any original thoughts of his or her own, it is just that they are having trouble using language to express them. On your check list of autism symptoms, make sure that you listen carefully for this odd use of language...for it can point to autism at its core.

Expressive versus Receptive Language

Another issue that should be on your checklist of autism symptoms is the issue of expressive versus receptive language.

  1. Expressive: Expressive means how well you can use language to express your thoughts. This also includes things like can you modulate your tone of voice, can you modify the prosody of your voice so different meanings are expressed with the same word, and so on.
  2. Receptive: Receptive language is often harder, both to achieve and to measure. This means how well does your child understand language? Not just the words themselves, but all the hidden meanings behind them. Can they pick up on sarcasm? On gentle teasing or kidding? How well do they understand jokes? Can they understand if someone says one thing but means another? Most kids with autism are quite literal minded, and have trouble picking up on these things.

Recent Autism Research Shows the Brain's Influence

Recent research has shown that some of these problems are a result of the different sides of the brain not communicating or "syncing" up with each other very well. Either way, the effects can be difficult.

Communication is More Than Words

Many people with autism might be quite smart and have good vocabularies, but because they can't use body language or modify their tone of voice very well, a lot of time the intent of their message gets lost. Also, many people with autism have a "flat" tone of voice, and to the unaware, this is often interpreted as a lack of interest, or even a lack of intelligence or sensitivity, when this is often not the case at all.

When you're going over the autism symptoms checklist, be sure to check for any language problems that may exist.

Hopefully, with early identification and early treatment, life can be a little easier for those with autism and the people who love them. For additional tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life visit the There you can sign up for their FREE newsletter with tips and info on autism.

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