COMD 4380 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: 6 Years, Intellectual Disability, Intentionality
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Chapter Two: Communication Development in Infancy (Bk pgs. 30-51)
Pre-linguistic stage: birth to about one year
Much of this chapter deals with cognitive development that happen either just
before, during, or just after language occurs
Object concept development, Or Piaget’s stages of cognitive development
•Piaget’s background was in the field of psychology but much of his work,
especially that on the stages of cognitive development, are applicable to speech
and language development studies
•The general idea of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development state the general
cognitive systems lay down the frame work for language and drive language
•Those who really like Piaget’s theories, and work with language, will often speak
on how Piaget’s stages of cognitive behaviors are prerequisite for language; And
as such, if they are working with a child who is pre-linguistic, they will often go
back to these “prerequisites for language” and work on these before working on
specific language skills
•The problem with this is the fact that the studies aren’t so cut and dry on
what comes first. In a about one third of children these cognitive steps come
first, in about one third of children language comes first, and in the remaining
third of the cases the cognitive behaviors and language behavior occur at the
same time, or they aren’t testable, or there’s noise in the data.
Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development
1. Sensorimotor stage, spans approximately between 0 to 2 years of age
2. Preoperational stage, spans approximately between 2 to 7 years of age
3. Concrete operational stage, spans approximately between 7 to 11 years of age
4. Formal operational stage, begins at approximately 11 years of age
Child changes from experiencing the world around her through her senses, to
forming representations about the world and using these representations to think,
reflect, play, and communicate
•Object permanence: understanding that things exist even when we cannot see
them (YouTube video)
•As demonstrated by the baby in the video, at six months of age children
have no sense of object permanence. When the toy was covered, she lost
interest and when it was uncovered, she regained interest.
•By 10 months of age, most children have developed object permanence.
The baby in the video demonstrated this; when the toy was covered, she no
longer lost interest. Instead, she manually searched for the two way where it
was last seen
•Means – end: understanding that problems can be solved mentally, so that a goal
can be attained by methods other than trial and error (understanding that actions
•Means-End is often referred to as tool use, or using other people or things
to achieve a goal
•For example, if a child’s favorite toy were out of reach, a child with means-
end would use a steak, or a ruler, or something along those lines to knock it
off the table, or ledge, or wherever it is out of reach. Another example would
be when a child hands his mother his empty sippy cup to get her to refill it
with more juice
•Tool usage can either be a) nonfunctional, or using a tool for a purpose
other than that for which it is intended; or b) conventional, or using a tool for
its intended purpose
Important developmental stages
•Stage 3 (approx. 4-8 mo.)
•imitation of others if behavior is in repertoire
•repetition of behavior with unexpected
•self is cause of everything
•Stage 4 (approx. 8-12 mo.)
•imitation of new behaviors
•object permanence begins
•manual search for object where last seen
•Stage 5 (approx. 12-18 mo.)
•experiment with means-end activities
•starting to walk; get into everything
•Stage 6 (approx. 18-24 mo.)
•cause-effect relationships other than self
•object permanence complete
•tool use complete
•conventional and productive
Assessment of Means-End (from pdf slide 13)
1. If an object is out of reach, will the child persist in efforts to obtain it?
2. If there is an obstacle to getting access to an object, will the child remove it?
3. If a favorite toy is attached to a string, will the child pull the string to get to the
toy? Horizontally? Vertically?
4. Will the child turn a container over to get objects that are inside to empty out?
5. Does the child use another person to achieve a goal (using adult’s hand to
access something of interest)?
6. Does the child hand adults a toy when it is not working correctly or when child
wants it restarted ?
7. Does the child use one object to obtain another (such as using a stick to move a
preferred object within reach)?