Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Talking things through in their head may aid children with autism

Talking to yourself in your head may not be such a bizarre pastime. It may actually be an important developmental tool.

A new study out of Durham University in England suggests that helping children with autism to ?alk things through in their head?could eventually help them to perform more complicated tasks ?eventually helping them to lead more independent lives.

The researchers observed a group of high-functioning adults with ASD and a comparison control group (neurotypical subjects) as both groups completed a task known as the Tower of London. The test ?which is also a popular mathematical puzzle ?consists of five colored discs that are arranged on three pegs. The object of the puzzle is to transform one arrangement of the disks between the pegs, one disk at a time.

In order to complete the task in as few moves as possible, a fair amount of planning is needed.

After working on the puzzles under normal conditions, both groups were asked to solve it again as they repeated a certain word out loud ?either ?uesday?or ?hursday.?Repeating words or phrases over and over is a way to suppress inner speech that helps people to plan.

?he neurotypical subjects took many more moves to complete this task when we interrupted their verbal thinking, whereas the participants with autism weren? affected at all with this interruption,?Williams said. ?o it ultimately suggests they weren? using verbal thinking in the first place.?lt;/p>

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