“Stop the world” by saying “wait” : What's up in autistic children? - Université de Bretagne Occidentale Access content directly
Journal Articles Medical Hypotheses Year : 2007

“Stop the world” by saying “wait” : What's up in autistic children?


Most of us have surely the following experience: when a friend is speaking too fast, we will say “wait” to show that we did not catch and we need perhaps a slowing down of speech rate or a repetition of what he has said. Such an act could also have a modulator effect for our internal information processing states : we say it to ourselves when we need to concentrate. Autistic children do it, too. But in many cases, they say it more often to themselves in a stereotyped way, for which we suppose that there might be a link to their clinical specificities : first, many autistic children have deficiency in direct gaze, in reciprocal conversation and in other social interaction behaviours. Many of them show an implicit, non-reciprocal style in the interaction with others: they respond often to the question itself but not to the interlocutor (with little or no exchange of direct eye contact) ; they tend to regulate their own daily life as well as their preoccupations in a stereotyped way (with little or no explicit intention to negotiate with others). Such an interaction mode might be a reason why their utterances often seem to be delivered to themselves, more than to others. Second, autistic children are well known to have a “weak central coherence” and deficiency in neural information processing. Such a “temporal binding deficit” might bring them to difficulties in real-time semantic retrieval in sensory perception and in social interaction, as well as difficulties in processing “overfull” information at the same time (“cognitive overflow”). To say “wait” to oneself could be an efficient way to reinforce temporally the higher cognitive control and to concentrate via a top-down attentional modulation, which could “unconsciously” become a dominant compensatory way in autistic children because of their information processing specificity. As suggested by Tardif et al., “the visual and auditory environmental world is probably going too fast for at least some children with ASD”, to temporally “stop the world” by saying “wait” to himself, might be an efficient compensatory strategy for some autistic children to live with their deficiency and specificity in information processing and social interaction.
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Dates and versions

hal-00460471 , version 1 (01-03-2010)


  • HAL Id : hal-00460471 , version 1


Fei Chen, Pascale Planche, Eric Lemonnier, Alain Lazartigues. “Stop the world” by saying “wait” : What's up in autistic children?. Medical Hypotheses, 2007, 69 (1), pp.224-225. ⟨hal-00460471⟩
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