The syndrome formerly known as Asperger’s

Someone linked me to the XKCD foot fetish strip I was discussing this with someone because they said a phonologist friend didn’t get it right away. In defending my position that “foot” isn’t the first thing a phonologist associates to stress, I did some reading and wound up walking down memory lane with autosegmental (and nonconcatenative phonology). Naturally it came back to ASD.

I looked it up and it appears the person I was assisting worked in autosegmental phonology, even though there was reference to The Sound Pattern of English. Here’s an interesting bit, to me dealing with a language delayed child: Quote 1. the features or feature-complexes which are independent in child-speech should be precisely those which may be autosegmental in adult grammar; 2. The process of language acquisition includes a task of “deautosegmentalization” or to use a less awkward term, restructuring of phonetics into linear segments…. pg 215 (This isn’t the person I assisted, this is someone else’s paper but recruits many references that are familiar to me.) This is interesting because children with the syndrome formerly known as Asperger’s seem to adopt an expanded tier of interpretation. It appears they process language on the phrase or sentence level rather than the word level, evidenced by a burst of language around age 3, sometimes talking in full sentences all at once. The tendency to repeat entire phrases (often from books or TV) persists, and the difficulty in analyzing intention could also support this idea.

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