Dr. Laura Sterponi, Brief Biography

Dr. Laura Sterponi

Affiliation: Language, Literacy and Culture, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education.

Bio: Merging my graduate degree training in developmental psychology (Ph.D., 2002) and in applied linguistics (Ph.D., 2004), I have developed a research program that is centrally concerned with the role of language and interaction in children’s development and education. Within this general program is included a central focus on the communication of and with children with autism. I employ discourse analytic methods to illuminate the interactional matrix of key features of autistic communication, such as echolalia, pronominal reversal/avoidance and literality. I hold that these linguistic phenomena associated with autism cannot be considered solely as epiphenomenal of an underlying disorder residing in the neurological substratum of the affected individual but need to be thought of as interactional outcomes. The turn design and interactional goals of those with whom the child with autism interacts can restrict the child’s own turns to form and content that do not reflect the child’s communicative potential. Conversely certain conversational patterns, or language games (à la Wittgenstein), can facilitate the child’s sustained involvement in interaction, his/her production of more complex utterances, and a higher level of attunement with his/her interlocutors.

Email: sterponi@berkeley.edu

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