How does a nonverbal human mind represent the world?

On December 16, 2019 by Dominika Slusna

What is meant by “nonverbal”?

A failure to develop language can be found in populations with diverse neurogenetic developmental disorders such as Angelman syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Cri du chat or Phelan-McDermid syndrome or Coffin-Siris syndrome, among others. Almost nothing is known about how exactly the language faculty breaks down or never comes into place. The exact linguistic profile of these populations is equally not known, but some studies report receptive language to be more preserved than expressive language.
Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs), however, represent a unique case in which at least 25% of the diagnosed school-aged children never acquire language in either production or comprehension. Nonverbal school-aged children and adults possess only a few words in production. However, many are not entirely silent  – they produce vocalizations, syllabic or non-syllabic, or sounds, which they sometimes do and sometimes do not direct socially. Large-scale studies of low-functioning children with ASCs also demonstrated a severely affected comprehension. This population can, in general, only follow simple orders that, in most of the cases, refer to their daily routines. In research, non-verbal or minimally verbal autism (NMVA) is frequently referred to as “production problem” with metaphors such as “breaking their silence”, while impaired comprehension is omitted from its definition.

How do they communicate?

It is hard to imagine what is human communication like when language falls out of it, although it is essential to stress out that communication is not lost at all in these cases. Lack of motivation, therefore,

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