Skip to main content

The constructionist approach offers a useful lens on language learning in autistic individuals.

Goldberg, Adele, Abbot-Smith, Kirsten (2021) The constructionist approach offers a useful lens on language learning in autistic individuals. Language, . ISSN 0097-8507. (In press) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:87500)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of 21.AutisticLanguage_AEGKAS_final_singlesp.pdf]
Official URL


The constructionist approach argues that communication is central to language learning, language use, and language change. We argue that the approach provides a useful perspective on how autistic children learn language, as it anticipates variable outcomes and suggests testable predictions. First, a reduced ability and interest in tracking the attention and intentions of others should negatively impact early language development, and a wealth of evidence indicates that it does. Secondly, and less discussed until recently, a hyper-focus on specifics at the expense of generalizations, common among people on the spectrum, should also negatively impact language development, and recent evidence suggests this is also the case. Pace Kissine (this volume), it is unsurprising that children can learn some second language from watching videos, and it is unclear how an appeal to “innate” language-specific knowledge could explain the range of outcomes of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: usage-based; autism; constructivism; constructionism; language development; word-learning; pragmatics; joint attention; intention-reading
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2021 15:37 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2021 12:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Abbot-Smith, Kirsten:
  • Depositors only (login required):