April 23, 2014

What's the Point?

On Language: Episode #9

The gesture of pointing is something we all do without much thought. We point to ourselves, at other people, at objects, or in the general direction of where we want to go - it's a seemingly straightforward communication tool that even small children use on a regular basis. Yet sometimes the act of pointing is not so simple. As Richard Meier, chair of the linguistics department at the University of Texas - Austin, explains, this is especially true for some children with an autism spectrum disorder. In this week's podcast, Meier introduces us to the complicated relationship between words and gestures in American Sign Language, and explains how this line of research has shed light on one aspect of autism.

To learn more about the ongoing work of two of Dr. Meier's students, mentioned near the end of the podcast, see this article from Al Jazeera America.

What's The Point? by Hold That Thought. image flickr: Chris Owens. audio free music archive: Jarod C. Balogh; Broke for Free; Lee Rosevere; Gillcuddy.