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Title: A treatise on language methods and language-games in autism
Author: Chown, Nick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 6132
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2012
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Although it is generally understood that autism is a developmental disability affecting social learning, my social constructionist perspective suggested to me that, strangely, current theories aimed at explaining the nature of autism appeared not to fully reflect the essential social aspects of autism. Given that typically developing human beings become fully socialised through learning a first language, it appeared to me that autism research has, especially of late, failed to give sufficient attention to language despite Kanner’s advice. In researching this thesis I have sought to make a contribution to knowledge of my subject by: (1) developing a synthesis of current knowledge of autistic language methods as a practical framework to guide future research focused on language in autism; (2) critiquing ‘established’ autism theory; (3) drawing attention to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s neglected contributions to the philosophy of mind; and (4) reviewing the contribution of ‘alternative’ theory, including Wittgenstein’s criteriological theory, to an understanding of autism. My research has involved reviewing: (a) the literature on autistic language methods; (b)Conversation Analysis of autistic conversation; (c) narrative writing by authors diagnosed or retrospectively diagnosed with autism; and (d) existing autism theory. I conclude that there are specific features of talk and writing that reflect autism with some features of autistic writing being a ‘mirror image’ of features of autistic talk. A further, important, conclusion is that there are strengths as well as weaknesses associated with autistic talk and writing i.e., from a linguistic stance, it is wrong to regard autism as a disability; rather, it involves a different way of communicating – both verbally and in writing – than is seen in typically developing people. I also conclude that alternative theory has much to contribute to an understanding of autism, and that the atypical nature of autistic social development results in autistic people failing to fully come to terms with language-games.
Supervisor: Beardon, Luke Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available