Toward Neurodiversity: How Conversation Analysis Can Contribute to a New Approach to Social Communication Assessment

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this clinical focus article was to illustrate the potential of employing conversation analysis (CA) as a method for assessing social communication that is neurodiversity affirming. Method: This clinical focus article will provide an overview of CA and explain how it offers a theoretically grounded means of analyzing autistic children’s everyday social interactions. Our aim is not simply to add a new assessment instrument to the disciplinary toolbox but to use the occasion to spur a recon-sideration of how social communicative competence is currently conceptualized in the field and how those assumptions are reified through assessment prac-tices. We will present a case illustration of a bilingual autistic child and his fam-ily. We will discuss the implications of a CA-informed assessment for reconcep-tualizing autistic social communicative competence. Results: The case study illustrates the contributions of CA for (a) shifting the focus of assessment from social communication as an individual skill to social communication as an interactional achievement and (b) surfacing social communicative competencies that may be dismissed as pathologies. Conclusions: CA offers a relational understanding of autistic communication and sociality that is compatible with a critical stance on disability. Insights from CA problematize deeply entrenched notions of autism and social communication in speech-language pathology.

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Yu, B., & Sterponi, L. (2023). Toward Neurodiversity: How Conversation Analysis Can Contribute to a New Approach to Social Communication Assessment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 54(1), 27–41. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_LSHSS-22-00041

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