Autism and Pragmatics – Understanding the Philosophy of Pragmatics

Pragmatics is a philosophy that studies the language we speak. It looks at how we use our words in a social and cultural context. It also takes into account how we talk with people who are different from us in culture, gender, or even religion.

It focuses on social interaction and communication skills in order to understand and express emotions and ideas more clearly. This is important for children with autism spectrum disorder who are often missing some social skills and need more help communicating their thoughts and feelings.

1. Understanding Social Norms

One of the most important aspects of pragmatics is understanding social norms, which can vary from person to person. This can include things such as understanding personal space, speaking at a low volume, and appropriately getting someone’s attention.

2. Using Nonverbal Signals

Another aspect of pragmatics is learning how to use nonverbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions, and body language. This is necessary for understanding how others feel and what they want from you.

3. Managing the flow of reference

This is another part of pragmatics that helps us understand the meaning of what someone is saying. For example, if we are talking about someone’s name, we would track the syntactic clues to see who they are.

4. Relevance theory

This is a framework in pragmatics that focuses on the importance of the contextual information a speaker conveys in every utterance. This is important for people with autism to understand because it allows them to communicate their wants and needs more easily.

5. Knowledge Validation

This part of pragmatism is the ability to accept ideas as mostly true if they appear to be useful in explaining or predicting the world. This is contrasted with skepticism, which is the fear that something may not be true.

6. Correspondence Theory of Truth

This pragmatist approach to knowing is the belief that a theory or idea is true if it accurately describes what is going on in the world. This can be a useful way to know if an idea is correct, but it can also lead to errors such as confusing mere correlation with causation or failing to understand that a theory does not always explain the world.

7. Ethics and Morality

This pragmatism can be dangerous because it can become easy to justify your own moral preferences. This is especially the case if you are a pragmatist that focuses on empirical issues such as how much something costs or what it means to your family.

10. Pragmatics is a key part of language and communication, and is an essential skill for children with autism to learn as they develop their social skills.

The study of pragmatics can be divided into two categories: ‘Literalist’ and ‘Contextual’ approaches. ‘Literalists’ believe that semantics is a more autonomous discipline, with little ‘pragmatic intrusion’; ‘contextualists’ believe that pragmatics is a critical component of everything we say and do.