Discourse analysis in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Keywords:Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pragmatic Skills, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Discourse Analysis
Discourse analysis in the Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) tradition may provide useful insights for researchers looking at social communication impairments in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is a severe developmental condition, the causes of which are unknown. However, in understanding this condition language has a primary role given that it is both one of the earliest diagnostics, and one of the best predictors of prognosis. This being said, the precise nature of the relationship between language and ASD is not clearly understood. The paper consists of a brief review of important areas of research related to language in the field of ASD, followed by a discussion of techniques that may be employed to gain a better understanding of language use in ASD. Areas of the linguistic system with the most potential for advancing our understanding of the nature and causes of pragmatic deficits in this condition are described. In particular, it is suggested that linguistic discourse analysis in the SFL tradition may open useful avenues of research in investigating the observable speech patterns of people with ASD.
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