This snap impression should always take the form of a hypothesis

It must also be remembered that the students at this school knew that language existed. Parents and teachers had attempted to teach them to lip-read and to understand signed and written Spanish. These children did not come up with the idea of language on their own. They needed a community of people who were willing to communicate with them the way they wanted to communicate: through a language that makes sense visually, not aurally. Keeping this in mind, we can use the example of NSL to understand how complex languages may have developed in early cultures with reasonably well-developed communication systems, but we cannot use it to draw conclusions about the very beginnings of human communication. This was a community with a limited knowledge of language, not isolation from it.

If language acquisition is responsible for further social development, we might think that language therapy could help children with social difficulties. This is indeed what is frequently observed in children with autism. Autism is marked by social, emotional, and cognitive difficulties. Because they seem to have a hard time engaging with others, autistic children generally develop little to no language skills. Greenspan and Shanker explain this via the Attention Diathesis Hypothesis, which states that “a child uses his affect to provide intent (or direction) for his actions and meaning for his symbols or words” (Greenspan and Shanker 2004, 301). If a child does not know how to engage with his caregivers and understand their emotions and intents, he will not understand their use of language. An autistic child lacks the ability to follow the patterns of communication, never acquires language, and becomes even more socially withdrawn as a result.

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interaction, and outcomes. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 20, 675-703.
Greenspan, S.I. (2001). The affect diathesis hypothesis: The role of emotions in the core deficit of


In this article, we present results from a RCT of the Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (PLAY) Project Home Consultation program for young children with ASD (using DSM-4 criteria). PLAY is parent-mediated, developmental, and focused on social reciprocity. PLAY is based on Greenspan and Wieder's developmental, individual differences, and relationship-based (DIR) theoretical framework. Greenspan's “affect diathesis hypothesis” maintains that when dyadic interaction is contingent, reciprocal, and affectively laden (i.e., enjoyable), the child's diathesis/inherent tendency is to progress through a series of increasingly functional (i.e., socially competent) developmental levels. PLAY operationalizes DIR through a structured approach that includes coaching, modeling, and video feedback. PLAY consultants make monthly 3-hour home visits; a 15-minute video of representative play interactions is recorded and analyzed. This analysis includes a written “PLAY Plan” describing methods, techniques, and activities that fosters parents' interactional abilities and play skills to promote their children's functional development.

Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Longman
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PLAY Project Home Consultation Intervention Program …

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