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Special Issue "Imagination in Autism"
A special issue of Healthcare (ISSN 2227-9032).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 21570
Special Issue Editor
2. ImagiRation LLC, Boston, MA 02135, USA
Interests: autism; behavioral therapy; pivotal response treatment; multiple cue responding; stimulus overselectivity
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Special Issue Information
Imagination is a multifaceted phenomenon. Simpler forms of imagination, such as dreaming and spontaneous insight, are innate, involuntary, and may even be present in non-human mammals. More complex voluntary forms of imagination, such as integration of modifiers and prefrontal synthesis, may be uniquely human. Voluntary imagination is essential for understanding complex language. Linking words with objects is the function of Wernicke’s area, while interpreting the grammatical structure of a sentence and assigning word forms to a grammatical group (such as noun, verb, or preposition) is the function of Broca’s area. Finally, combining objects from memory according to grammatically imposed rules into a novel mental image is the function of the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC). For example, the sentences “The dog bit my friend” and “My friend bit the dog” use identical words and grammar. Appreciating the misfortune of the first sentence and the humor of the second sentence depends on the LPFC ability to faithfully synthesize the two objects—the friend and the dog—into a novel mental image. Similarly, understanding spatial prepositions such as in, on, under, over, beside, in front of, and behind requires a subject to synthesize several objects in front of the mind’s eye using their LPFC.
Most people anthropomorphically assume innate voluntary imagination abilities in all individuals. However, therapists, parents, and researchers working with children with autism appreciate the challenges of voluntary imagination acquisition. Even with daily language therapy, some children never develop their LPFC connections, which are essential for a full imagination. The phenomenon whereby individuals cannot combine disparate objects into a novel mental image is known as stimulus overselectivity, tunnel vision, and the lack of multi-cue responsivity. Failure to acquire the ability to mentally juxtapose objects into novel combinations results in a life-long inability to understand spatial prepositions, recursion, and other complex sentences. Among individuals diagnosed with ASD, the prevalence of individuals exhibiting this problem is 30 to 40%.
This problem of voluntary imagination acquisition is exacerbated by confusion between voluntary and involuntary imagination and a misunderstanding of the strong critical period. It is not uncommon for parents to brush off their child’s language delay until elementary school, at which time it may be too late to develop voluntary imagination. It is also common for parents to mistake drawing, Lego constructions, and jigsaw puzzle assembly for manifestation of voluntary imagination. In children developing atypically, some aspects of creativity can be driven exclusively by involuntary imagination and do not reflect the development of voluntary imagination.
While clinicians are usually aware of the critical period and normally recommend early intervention at the time of diagnosis, they are often reluctant to emphasize the urgent nature of the problem to the parents, as most clinicians are uncertain about the distinction between voluntary and involuntary imagination and between weak and strong critical periods. Even when intensive therapy ensues early, the success is hindered by ambiguous goals. Many techniques used by speech language pathologists and ABA therapists are aimed at improving voluntary imagination: “combining adjectives, location/orientation, color, and size with nouns”, “following directions with increasing complexity”, “conditional discrimination”, “development of multi-cue responsivity”. However, voluntary imagination exercises are usually just a small part of intervention that primarily focuses on building up a child’s vocabulary. Vocabulary is easier to train, and most tests rely exclusively on a child’s vocabulary to measure success, thus encouraging focus on vocabulary training. Thus, ambiguous imagination terminology and lack of appreciation for the strong voluntary imagination critical period have a clear negative effect on the education of vulnerable children.
The goal of this Special Issue on imagination in autism is to highlight the importance of better understanding of the strong critical period for voluntary imagination and to review novel educational methodologies with the potential to improve diagnosis and therapy in young children with language delay. Multipronged approaches that combine efforts of therapists and parents will result in earlier and more effective therapy and eventually in many more high-functioning productive lives.
Please note the first five papers could have an opportunity to apply for full waiver for the article processing charges. Possible fundings will be announced soon for the rest of submissions.
Dr. Andrey Vyshedskiy
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Healthcare is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- Language therapy
- Theory of mind (TOM)
- Prefrontal synthesis
- Voluntary imagination
- Reduced imagination
- Pretend play
- Symbolic play
- Low-functioning ASD
- Language acquisition critical period
- Following directions with increasing complexity
- Building the multiple features in the sentence
- Matrix training
- Generative language
- Conditional discrimination
- Multi-cue responsivity
- Stimulus overselectivity
- Tunnel vision
- Nonverbal autism
- Receptive language