Friday, January 27, 2012

Inner Speech, do you have it?

When you read do you hear a voice?  Is it often a the voice of what you know or think the author sounds like?  I was shocked to learn a few months ago that some people do. I ran across this article about how dyslexics don't have an inner voice when they read.  I guess that most people when they are reading have a voice inside of their head that they hear.  It often is the voice of what they know, or perceive the author of the written text to sound like!  This was shocking to me.  I went to my husband, then to my daughter (who are both dyslexic) and asked them if they heard 'a voice' when they read.  They verified they did not.  However, I don't either.  I am not by any means dyslexic.  I never knew anyone did! I know enough about dyslexia to know that just like many on the autism spectrum, they think in pictures.  Obviously, this inner speech thing is not central to being dyslexic, or autistic, but rather a byproduct of being wired differently.  Though, not everyone on the spectrum has no inner speech, either as I went straight for a very active AS forum and inquired about their inner speech, or lack of there.  A few pages of responses later and there were no clear evidence that we all were the same in this area.

So, to my surprise, I have seen the same type of inner speech theory  come up this week in relation to autism and ability to problem solve.  I think that their data and reasoning behind it is flawed.  I also think that the test to see if you 'have inner speech' (which I will post later in this entry) will produce much worry on the behalf of ASD parents everywhere that want their child to learn to live independently. It also assumes that one can bypass this issue by teaching an autistic person who thinks in pictures at a young age to use words instead.  This makes no sense to me.  It is impossible to think in a different way then one is wired to think.  It would be like trying to force Windows to run on a Mac.  Not gonna be compatible and everyone is gonna be confused and frustrated in the end.

How does someone like me, who runs a household efficiently and is capable of living independently do it without an inner voice to problem solve, or scaffolding, as my son's speech path would say?  I talk out loud, to myself.  Not as in having a conversation with myself, but as in talking myself through each step.  I'm sure that many of you with verbal children on the autism spectrum have heard your child talk to themselves.  We do this, because we don't do it inside of our heads like others do.  The more I concentrate on something the more I need to speak out loud about each step.  I know my son can be heard in his room at night repeating many conversations he's had with others that day, or practicing on new ones while he goes to sleep.  This is our way of working through the social stuff that you all do by instinct.  For me, it got much worse in my adolescence, though I don't know why.  I'm guessing it was due to needing to focus all that much more on the social side of language, instead of just using it for sharing information, as I had used it my whole life up until that point.  No matter what it is, I problem solve it out loud, or by writing it down.

To test your inner speech ability: 

(Taken from the link above)\

For this you need two people - one asking the questions and the other doing the test. If you find any of this difficult, it may indicate problems with reading.
Ask the person to say numbers one to 26 out loud, then to say them again, but saying one out loud and two and three in their heads, with their tongue clamped between their teeth.

They must not move any part of their body, such as nodding their head or using their fingers.
The correct sequence would be 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25. They must complete it within 25 seconds.
Using a pen, tap on the table, say, ten times and ask the other person to count the taps in their head, applying the same rules as above.

How did you do?  If you would, please leave a comment about how you did on the test and whether or not you have an ASD, dyslexia or ADHD.  You can also find more tests and some very interesting data on this page  about inner speech and different learning abilities.