Seminar on Pragmatic Language Difficulties

Pragmatic language difficulties in children within the Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

Three of the leading British researchers within the field of pragmatic language difficulties in relation to autism and SLI will present their insights and results at this seminar for speech and language therapists, parents, researchers, and students.


10.00-10.10: Introduction

10.10-12.00 (including a break with tea and coffee): Michael Perkins, Department of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield: Pragmatic ability and disability in children: an emergentist and dialogical account

Michael Perkins has published the book Pragmatic Impairment (Cambridge University
Press 2007). He sees pragmatic difficulties as a consequence of a dysfunction within one of the following systems and processes: cognition, language and gesture, and sensomotoric systems and processes. But rather than focusing on the dysfunction as such, he emphasizes the interaction of the different elements in the individual (the intrapersonal domain) and in communication between individuals (the interpersonal domain). This approach to pragmatic impairment is what Perkins calls the emergentist account.

12.00-13.00: lunch (a sandwich)

13.00-14.15: Research fellow Courtenay Frazier Norbury, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London: Pragmatic language impairment: overlap between SLI and ASD

Courtenay Norbury has done research on both children with autism and children with SLI. Among other things, she has studied the children’s comprehension of ambiguous words, metaphors, and idioms, their shortterm memory for phonology and grammar, and their narratives.

14.15-15.00: tea/coffee

15.00-16.15: Clinical Senior Lecturer in Speech and Language Therapy Catherine
Adams, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester: Intervention for
children with pragmatic language difficulties: exploring the effects of an intensive
speech-language therapy trial

Catherine Adams has investigated the language of children with SLI, autism, or pragmatic impairment in different contexts. Her work is particularly focused on how to train the children’s pragmatic competences.

The seminar is organized by the Research Group on Communication Difficulties at The Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Kompetencecenter for Logopædi, Professionshøjskolen UCC and Foreningen af Universitetsuddannede Audiologopæder (FUA). It is funded by Tips- og lottomidlerne til forskningsformidling.

Practical information

  • The seminar will be held in English.

  • It takes place at The Faculty of the Humanities, Njalsgade 120, room 23.0.49 (the
    ground floor of building 23, see map above).

  • Attendance is free, but please register with Peter Christiansen
    ( no later than September 6, 2010.

  • Parking in Njalsgade is restricted, but the university can be accessed via bus and
    metro transportation (see the map).