SYMBOLIC DEVELOPMENT IN PLAY, LANGUAGE AND SELF-AWARENESS OF TWINS
GOLDMAN, SHOSHANA MAFDALI
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This is a diary study of the emergence, development and relationship of symbolic abilities in language, play, and self-awareness between ages 10 and 20 months seen in naturalistic behaviors of monozygotic twin boys. The study sought to understand developmental relationships between these three areas of representation. Observations were recorded daily. Combining theories of Piaget, Werner and Kaplan, and Mahler, the investigator used a developmental model of progressive differentiation of self, other, signifier and signified to describe the emergence and level of symbolization of different domains.;Behaviors observed were: (1) non-pretend and pretend play; (2) language content, form and use; (3) representation of self and others in play and language; and (4) social-emotional manifestations of separation-individuation.;Findings were that (1) all cognitive domains developed simultaneously through four levels of symbolization: (a) presymbolism, (b) sensorimotor subjective symbolism, (c) early conventional symbolism, and (d) true symbolism. (2) Development was consistent with descriptions by previous researchers of singletons, with minor variations (possibly related to twinship), notably, (a) unusually brief use of self-referenced pretend play; (b) morphological inflections for plural and possession before -ing; (c) early predominance of child-initiated discourse; (d) other-reference before or simultaneous with self-reference more often than afterwards, and (e) occurrence of three distinct vocabulary spurts accompanied by advancing word meanings, enthusiasm for naming, and new language functions. (3) Successive levels of cognitive growth preceded all phases of emotional separation and individuation. (4) Representation in each domain progressed simultaneously as new skills (a) gradually emerged (with behaviors on multiple levels of representation); (b) suddenly increased in frequency; (c) consolidated, while further skills gradually emerged, and (d) were used more self-consciously. (5) Transitions between developmental levels shared consistent characteristics.;The findings are consistent with hypotheses that (1) a common faculty for symbolic representation underlies apparently different cognitive domains; (2) the relationship of language to play changes from parallel to mediating as language acquires an increasingly regulatory function, and (3) development of cognitive representation is prerequisite for development of emotional separation.;Better understanding of the relationship of play, language and self-identity may be gained from and also contribute to diagnosis and remediation of children whose development is deviant.
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