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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

Osteopathy and Voice: Verbal stimuli to be able to communicate with patients with autism





Autism on a communicative level is characterized by a combination of social interaction and communication deficits accompanied by stereotyped and / or repetitive obsessions and behaviors.

However, it is a continuum disorder that goes from serious aspects to highly functional aspects, with even normal verbal ability.

In many cases autistic patients have fluent speech but the pragmatic-semantic use and understanding of language in the social context are compromised. Patients with autism, for example, have shown difficulty in understanding their turn to speak in a speech, in considering the perspective of another person and in responding adequately to what is said by third parties.

The greatest difficulties are manifested in the understanding of non-literal language, such as irony, figurative expressions and metaphors, or in understanding the real intentions of the interlocutor and the context.

In addition, autistic patients have difficulty following a multi-party discussion.

Autistic children can understand the meaning of verbs on a mental level but not to deduce what they want to imply in a situation.

They are able to understand the feelings of a character in a story based only on the prosody, but they cannot judge the feelings on the basis of the prosody when there is a discrepancy between prosody and context.

Finally, they often have difficulty producing and understanding spoken prosody which is known to carry pragmatic information concerning the speaker's intentions.

The pragmatic deficits in autism are usually explained as the inability to understand the mood of other people in the interaction.

One of the main ideas for understanding the state of mind of other people is related to the ability to correctly interpret the prosody on which their words are placed.

Prosody refers to one of the suprasegmental aspects of language, including the variation of the fundamental frequency (F0), intensity and duration. These characteristics carry a variety of communicative meanings including grammatical, pragmatic and affective purposes.

Affective prosody in particular includes suprasegmental cues that are used to signal the speaker's mental state and feelings as well as register changes used for different social functions.

In order to work well with an autistic person, it is therefore absolutely necessary to keep in mind this receptive communicative capacity by emphasizing the prosodic aspect more than the other linguistic qualities, in this way the communicative relationship will be more profitable!

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