Semantic Problems in Autistic Children

  • Paula Menyuk
  • Kathleen Quill
Part of the Current Issues in Autism book series (CIAM)


Language appears to be represented in the “adult” mind in multiple ways. Semantic storage is in terms of sensory, functional, hierarchical, and associational parameters. Thus, the word cat evokes visual, tactile, and other sensory images, the superordinate category animal, and objects, actions, and events (such as jump or chase a mouse) that are related to the basic category word. When the word cat appears in a sentence, there are additional features associated with its meaning. It may either be a subject or an object in a sentence, and more rarely, a verb or adjective. The sentence context may further define the meaning of a particular cat. For example, “the big black cat bounded into the dark alley” is a very different representation than “the white fluffy cat snuggled into her lap.” When the word cat appears in a story, it can be further defined by new events and relations that are described in the story. In this way, knowledge of what cats are and what they do grows. As these multiple representations are achieved, on-line processing of language can take place with increasing rapidity and accuracy until some asymptote is achieved.


Relational Term Autistic Child Semantic Relation Word Order Lexical Item 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Menyuk
    • 1
  • Kathleen Quill
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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