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Sign Language and Autism

  • Ronnie B. Wilbur
Part of the Current Issues in Autism book series (CIAM)

Abstract

For over a decade, reports have documented the efficacy of sign language intervention techniques with autistic individuals who do not appear to benefit from traditional speech training. There has been much discussion and speculation as to the reasons for this apparent success in the various reviews that have surveyed the research literature (Bonvillian, Nelson, & Rhyne, 1981; Carr, 1979; Layton, Leslie, & Helmer, 1983; Wilbur, 1979). Concurrently, there has been an exciting revolution in our understanding of the structure of sign language and its function as a natural language. Although these recent linguistic insights do not solve the puzzles presented by sign language usage with autistic children and adults, they do provide fresh perspectives on the problems that may serve to stimulate innovative research and clinical creativity. This chapter then will take its title literally and allocate a substantial portion of its space to a description of sign language itself, even though in many cases only a portion of the language is being used for intervention purposes. Following this discussion, our attention will be turned to the problems posed by the need to develop communicative language in autistic individuals. We will suggest new directions for future intervention and research and reiterate several earlier suggestions for sign language usage with autistic children (Menyuk & Wilbur, 1981; Moores, 1981).

Keywords

Sign Language Autistic Child American Sign Deaf Child Language Intervention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronnie B. Wilbur
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Audiology and Speech SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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