Resources for Communication Problems

Sunday, January 20, 2008





The study of the biological basis of behavior in man is severely handicapped by the impossibility of doing crucial experiments that systematically interfere with physiology. Growth of structure, and development. We must, therefore, take resource to pathological deviationstheseof courseare never controlled situations and therefore introduce inaccuracies, but since we have nothing more exact to study ins place, the experimental shortcomings must be taken into account and accepted as inevitable. Simply to ignore or overlook these phenomena is inexcusable as it may result in theories that are flatly contradicted by pertinent facts in pathology.

It is often said that it is difficult enough to understand the development of behavior in the healthy individual and that we should, therefore, not complicate our task by trying to understand at the same time behavioral development in the presence of disease. Such a statement is based on the false assumption that disease result in more complicated behavior. however, we may consider it axiomatic that disease processes do not usually add to the complexity of structure of behavior. Disease may distort or modify some aspects of behavioror it may block inhibitions or eliminate balancing components of the behavioral structure, throwing development or performance into disequilibrium, such that one component becomes much more prominent than anotheror it may eliminate certain superstructures, thus bringing more primitive layers of behavioral into prominence. But disease will not ordinarily produce behavior that goes beyond the level of complexity which is norm. It might often be dangerous to study merely one disease process and then make generalizations based on this one type of pathology. Howeverif we view a given behavior pattern in the light of a whole spectrum of pathological modifications, we may be able to attain some insight into aspects of that behavior not ordinarily seen.

(1)Language Lacquisition in the Absence Speech Production

Most psychological theories on language acquisition assume that the conditio sine quo non for this development is presence of an appropriate response system(most recently emphasized by Premack and Schwartz,1966)namely random babbling, thatmay be shaped into wordsphrases and complete and mature utterancesIt is a fundamental assumption here that responding is priorin a senseto understandinghoweverthere is a type of childhood abnormality that contradicts this assumptionThese are children with an inborn disability to coordinate their muscles of the vocal tract sufficiently to produce intelligible speechThe disturbance is seen in varying degree ranging from mild impediment to congenital anarthria.

I have had an opportunity to study one such case in great detail over a five-year periodThis was a child who was nine years old when seen lastHe has never been able to babble orwith advancing ageto say anything at allbut there can be no question that he has complete understanding of EnglishOver the years much material was collected about this case including detailed medical prenatal and postnatal historiesneurological examinationsfamily and social historieslaboratory and psychological test results(repeated at various intervals),X-rays and electroencephalographyobservations during free play in the child’s home and in my officerecords were kept during attempts to train him in speech(unsuccessfully),and a report is available on daily private tutoring throughout one summerThis was conducted as a demonstration project to teach this totally inarticulate child the elements of readingThe latter was relatively successful.*The technique used is of considerable interestthe child demonstrated his ability to read by learning to match pictures to words and simple sentencesAbsence of articulation should not be automatically regarded as a hindrance to instructing inarticulate children in the three R’s.

The technical details and background for this case are reported in Lenneberg(1962) and a discussion of the etiology of this condition may be found in Lenneberg(1964).

Some details of the patients communication behavior may be worth reporting here.

His crying and laughter had sounded normal since birthHe was able to make other noisesfor instanceshortcough-like gruntsaccompanying his pantomimed communicationsWhile playing alonehe would readily make noises that sounded somewhat like Swiss yodeling(though he had never had any experience with these sounds) and which do not resemble any kind of vocalization heard among normal American childrenWhen I first saw himhe appeared to have some difficulty in bringing his voicing mechanism under voluntary controlFor instancehe was unable to make the pointer of the VU meter in an Ampex tape recorder jump by emitting grunts into a microphone even though he was fully aware of the logical connection between sound and deflection of the pointer and was fascinated by ithe would hold on to microphone and move his head and lips toward it as if to prompt himself for the actionafter a few futile attempts and with signs of rising frustrationhe wouldin desperationgesture to the examiners mouthinviting him to make the needle jump, or else simply resort to clapping his hands and accomplish his end this wayWith advancing age he learned to control his vocal apparatus to a greater extentAt the time he was last seen he would repeat-with a considerable show of strain-a few wordsbut the words were barely intelligible and were never produced without support from the speech correctionist or the motherThey had to say the words simultaneously with him.

Some of the spontaneous sounds emitted by the patient at four years were analyzed spectrographicallyThe spectrograms are grossly abnormal for a child of this age and resemble those of a neonate in a number of respectssuch as the unsteadiness in the formant patternthe intermittent bursts of nonharmonic overtonesand the almost random change in resonance distribution over the spectrum(Lenneberg,1962).The spectrograms may be interpreted either as grossly immature or as evidence of a fixed central nervous system abnormality implicating the basic mechanisms for speech synergism.

From the patients first visit to the clinic it had been obvious that he had a normal and adequate understanding of spoken languageHe has been more than twenty times since thenand full comprehension has been confirmed by neurologistspsychologistsspeech therapistsmedical residentsand teachersA number of tape recordings have been made of interviewsincluding a visit to the patients homeMost of the examinations were done without the presence of his motherAt one timea short series of instructions were tape recorded and transmitted to the patient through earphonesHe followed the instructions without being able to see the examiner.

At the age of eight his capacity to comprehend was fully documented in a 16-millimeter sound film which is publicly available.*The film was not rehearsed and the interviewer had been known to patient by sight onlyThe demonstration includes the following itemsability to chewswallowand sucksounds emitted while playing at age fourtape recordings of mothers-”conversation”-with subjectrecorded during a home visitfollowing commands and answering questions by noddinga short story is told followed by questions on it which are couched in complex grammatical constructions.

*1Carried out in cooperation with the Harvard School of Educationspecial thanks are to Dr.Helen Popp and Dr.Joel Weinberg.

*2The Acquisition of Language in a Speechless Child16-millimeter sound filmRunning time is 18 minutesdistributed by cinema registerPennsylvania State University.


關於人們生理的根本行為研究幾乎受到阻礙,不太可能做有系統性的實驗,由於它干擾到人體的生理。人體隨著結構的成長還有發展,我們必須求助於pathological deviations。當然,它是不能被控制狀況還有引進錯誤,因為我們對精確的研究它的地方毫無所知,此外,實驗性的缺點必須被算入,並無可避免的接受。簡化地忽略這些現象是不可避免的,雖然它會造成和病理學相關的理論事實有所牴觸、矛盾。





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