Unprovoked Crying… And Unprovoked Laughter… What Is Going On?
Perhaps one of the most difficult areas for parents of children with autism to understand and deal with emotionally was the issue of “unprovoked crying”… crying that seemed to result in our children… for no reason at all.
Although now Zachary usually slept in his own bed, there were times when he still had difficulty getting to sleep and I knew that hugging mommy helped him fall asleep during those stressful times. My husband, Fred, and I always planned on “moving him to his bed” when he fell asleep, yet, there were many a time when we all seemed to fall asleep at the same time and inevitably, during the night, Fred, too tired to move Zachary, would just go sleep in living room on the couch – unable to tolerate the inescapable star formation Zachary always appeared to assume while he slept in our bed.
At forty, I had to admit that even I found the “star prongs poking into my kidneys” to be a little too much for me to tolerate also. As such, by five am or so, I often found myself sleeping alongside my husband – on the floor – in the living room – on a large futon-like mat. There had been many an occasion where upon awaking – with the inescapable sore back – that I had told my husband that this was getting absolutely insane – forty and still sleeping on the floor!
I had suffered a mild hernia and lifting anything that had much weight could easily aggravate my abdomen again and so, my moving Zachary – was not an option – he was simply too heavy for me to lift. Even at five, Zachary was so heavy that Fred, when half asleep, found it a challenge to move Zachary to his bedroom and as such, when Zachary did get moved, as he lay in Fred’s arms, he often “lost altitude” on the way to the bed as gravity pulled Zachary’s body closer and closer to the floor.
Although Zachary’s sleep patterns had greatly improved, such nights as these appeared to take longer and longer to recover from. If there were something parents of children with autism surely cherished, it had to be a - good night’s sleep!
We had a gorgeous, wonderfully firm, posture maintaining, and oh - ever so comfortable - king size bed with lots of cushy, fluffy pillows and warm blankets to take us through the night. I had come to treasure that bed – tremendously – and I treasured it more each time I found myself sleeping on a hard floor, sharing one blanket with a husband who had a natural ability to “lodge and hog” it under him as he slept and snored away and I lay there usually with - no pillow. Fred did not snore all the time – usually, only when he was stressed – and sleeping on the floor seemed to stress him a great deal. It was as though snoring louder somehow compensated for the fact that he was so uncomfortable. I could just lie there – hoping to fall asleep. Often, I went and looked for a pair of earplugs to muffle the sound of the snores and the ticking of the clock – that constant reminder that the night and my opportunity for rest was slowly fading away. Sleeping in Zachary’s bed was not an option. Somehow the cat always found her way onto that bed if I went into it and sleeping with a cat was something I simply could not tolerate.
I also found Zachary’s bed to be too small anyway – and the fact that it was right up against the wall and had that “little safety bar” to stop him from falling onto the floor on the other side – made me feel almost “claustrophobic” in that bed. Certainly, I could sleep on the couch, but, Fred and I had so little time to ourselves that when I saw him “roughing it out” on the floor, I usually preferred to just snuggle up to him anyway. So the floor it was – and, eventually - I did finally get to sleep. Yet, awaking to stiff muscles, pained hip bones, a crimped back, and kinked neck, was not something I particularly enjoyed and as such, I could usually tolerate Zachary’s “sleeping star formation” a little more than Fred could.
Inevitably though, even if I adjusted my sleep posture to better align with Zachary’s star formation, the night’s sleep was always greatly shortened and much less restful when Zachary’s star shot through the night in my bed. As such, unless I found myself almost comatose from the lack of sleep during the night and had somehow managed to fall back asleep during the early morning hours, I pretty always awakened before Zachary on those times he slept with me. I awakened earlier – in spite of the fact that I had also fallen asleep – later – the night before.
On this particular evening – again – I had allowed Zachary to sleep in our bed. Fred was still up working in the office and as such I knew he could “move Zachary” when he came to bed. We had spent the day working on the “pronoun confusion issue”.
As had been the case in the issue of “pronoun confusion”, the issue of “unprovoked crying” had not been one I had particularly paid attention to. It had not occurred that often in Zachary that it was a major concern for me – although I knew he, like so many children with autism, definitely had exhibited “unprovoked crying”.
On this night, as I hugged Zachary while putting him down to bed, I practiced pronoun usage a little bit with the "I love you and you love me" example. When I figured it was time for him to go to sleep, I said: "Good night Zachary" and added "What do you say?". He replied: "Thank you, mom". I then said: "No. What do you say?" I was expecting him to say: "Goodnight mom". To my “What do you say?” – again - he replied, "Thank you, mom". I then said, "No. What do you say when I say – goodnight, Zachary?" He once again tried to reply "thank you mom" – only now, suspecting the inevitable "No…" was coming – again - on my part - he quickly added, "you're welcome" - thinking that might be the correct answer. I once again, said "No...", and added... "That's not right... what do you say"?
I thought we were still “just having fun” - talking and hugging - only now, Zachary started his "unprovoked crying".
When this type of crying happened with Zachary, although it had not been that often, it always started very, very slowly and quickly became almost overwhelming for him.
Given this did not happen that often and in the past, I had always been able to calm him rather fast, now knowing so many of the “tricks”, I had not paid “that much attention” to this issue of “unprovoked crying” – until now!
Of course, at first, I wondered: "What's wrong"? By this time, I had pretty well trained myself to “go over” what had just happened in order to find the answer to the problem. That was when it hit me like a ton of bricks - again!
During the day, whenever I gave Zachary something, I expected him to say "Thank you, mom"... and I added: "You're welcome". Those two phrases, for Zachary, always "went together" – but they went “together” with a third phrase I always used - "What do you say?" - as I prompted him to say thank you for what he had received.
Therefore, when I used the same phrase: "What do you say?" after saying "Goodnight, Zachary" and expected a "Goodnight, mom" from Zachary, he used his references of "thank you mom" and "you're welcome" - thinking those were the answers to "What do you say?" - in this situation too. Only, in this situation, I was looking for a different answer. I was now looking for a "Goodnight, mom" instead of a "thank you, mom"!
Given Zachary lived by reference and his references were not "working" in providing the correct answer to the "What do you say?" when I was looking for a "Goodnight, mom", it was most understandable that Zachary became frustrated since his reference for that familiar phrase of "What do you say?" was not working for him - in this situation. Again, just as it had been the case with “pronoun confusion” – the issue had been one of a "moving target" – only here – it was the situation that had changed while the reference for a specific prompt had remained the same! To Zachary, “What do you say?” had always been associated with “Thank you, mom” in the past. Now, I was using the same phrase and expecting a “different” response – and Zachary, a child I had come to see lived entirely “via reference” did not have a “different reference” for this “different situation”. As such, his reference system was failing him – completely and hence – the seemingly - “unprovoked crying”. Now that I understood what was happening, the “unprovoked crying” made perfect sense. Unprovoked crying had resulted from a perceived breakdown in Zachary’s “reference system”!
The key to this one was simple. All I had to do was provide “new references” – new choices for Zachary and show him how the same sentence could be used in different way. I now showed him that “What do you say?” when mommy said “Goodnight, Zachary” meant he was expected to say, “Goodnight, mom”. In no time at all, Zachary understood this and when I said: “What do you say?” after I said “Goodnight, Zachary”, he was able to give me the appropriate response. It was then that I realized that in providing the “appropriate response”, it was best if I gave Zachary a lot of “options” by saying something such as the following:
“Zachary, when mommy says – Goodnight, Zachary – you say, “Goodnight, mom” or “Have a good sleep mom”, or “See you tomorrow, mom”, or “I love you, mom”. In other words, I had to provide for Zachary, several options that were “ok” to use in this situation. This would be true, in any situation. Also key was the fact that in providing references for Zachary, I always said: “you say” to give him that “clue” that this was what his response should be. For a child who lived “via reference”, the key was to provide not only one – but multiple references – and to show that there could be “flexibility” in the expected response!
As I came to understand the issue, I then easily recognized it when it happened and could easily help Zachary adjust and understand “how things worked” much better as I provided for him more and more examples or references of “what to use – and when”. Instead of just saying “no” in the event of an inaccurate response, I now said: “No… you say…” and provided the correct reference for the situation, and followed up by having Zachary actually provide the correct response as I asked the original question once again.
For example, I had seen the same type of thing happen when I worked with Zachary on issues of "time". Although he was only five, Zachary could now read time – the “afters” and the “tos” were now fully understood by Zachary as were the “quarters after and quarters to”. I knew eight and nine year olds who still had problems with this concept. Yet, because I now understood Zachary lived by reference, and that he had to understand how all the pieces “fit together”, I had made my own tools for teaching him the concept of “time” and based on that building blocks approach, he had mastered how to tell time – at the age of five!
I had not spent that much time on am verses pm. We had always worked on “time” in the afternoon or evening. When I asked "What time is it?", Zachary would respond, eight o'clock if it was eight o’clock. I had not particularly spent much time asking him to differentiate “am or pm”. That had not been something I had seen as “a big deal”. I had focused more on his ability to actually read the clock.
Yet, in working with issues of “time”, I had also noticed the issue of “unprovoked crying”. On this particular morning, I had asked Zachary the time and after he had given me the correct answer, I then said: "am or pm?" I had never asked Zachary the time first thing in the morning before. He still had not grasped that concept of “am verses pm” well enough and he guessed "pm" since "pm" had been the right answer in the past – and indeed, there were a lot more “pm” waking hours than “am” for Zachary, and as such, the probability of “pm” working was actually – quite good! Indeed, it was usually afternoon before I remembered to ask him: “What time is it?” as a “practice” question. On this day, though, I had asked him first thing in the morning and when I asked him: “am or pm”, he had guessed “pm”. This was the first time I had asked him “the time” in the morning. I answered, "No, not pm… it's am". Zachary started to cry – there was that "unprovoked crying thing" – because – again, his reference system had failed him!
As such, at least in the case of Zachary, I now believe unprovoked crying truly was not "unprovoked" and that it happened for a reason. That reason was frustration over the fact that a previous reference was not perceived as working any more by Zachary - a child who lived in "a world of order" - where everything had to be perfectly labeled to be understood and where change was not readily or easily accepted in anything - including responses in speech and varying situations!
Yet, to calm Zachary down when “unprovoked crying” did occur, all I had to do was explain to him that "you can use the same question for different things" and I told him "mommy would teach him how". Telling him “mommy would teach him how” things worked appeared to greatly comfort Zachary. I told him that often – “I’ll show you how”. This small phrase, like others I had used, became part of what I called: “words to cope” – something I discussed in my second book, Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!
After that reassurance that he would be given the appropriate response and showed “how things worked”, Zachary was fine and had stopped crying. I could tell he understood what I was saying when I had told him I would “help him understand”. :o)
Again, understanding the problem had been the first, critical step – in addressing it.
As such, for me, it now became an issue of teaching how the same question or reference could be used in different situations to get different responses. In those cases of “major meltdown” if Zachary experienced great distress in anything, I would first provide not just the “no”… but provide the critical… “You say…” – to give Zachary that critical reference he needed as I corrected his inappropriate response. I tried very hard not to just give Zachary a “no” or “stop that” or “don’t do that”. If such words were used they had to be followed by the appropriate “reference” or response. To simply say “no” or “stop that” or “don’t do that” without providing the desired alternative did absolutely nothing for Zachary and hence, would not in my opinion, stop an “undesired” response or behavior since no “new reference” had been provided to replace the old.
If the issue involved a concept, such as “am verses pm”, I gave the “extra explanation” in addition to the answer and said something like: “No… morning = am… am = time you get up to eleven fifty nine… pm = twelve o’clock = noon until eleven fifty nine pm = twelve o’clock until bedtime”. Zachary was always very, very attentive when it came to “equations” that explained how things worked!
Another example of unprovoked crying in Zachary had involved the word “diesel”. Diesel was the name of my in-laws’ dog, and it was also a word Zachary loved because he absolutely loved the sound of diesel trucks.
In my first book, I mentioned how we used to play a game called “my boy” to make Zachary feel very wanted – to show him how much we all loved him. In this game, Fred, Anika and I could tug at different parts of Zachary’s body (i.e., arms, legs, torso) as we all tried to show Zachary that each one of us “wanted him to belong to us”. So, we made as though we were fighting, physically, “to get Zachary” as we tugged on different parts of his body. We still played “my boy”.
Recently, I would say that Zachary was “mommy’s boy”. He would find joy in running up to his dad and saying, “no, daddy’s boy” to see my reaction as I said: “no… no… no… you are mommy’s boy…”. Zachary would then say: “both” – meaning he belonged to both mom and dad. We had “expanded” the circle he belonged to in order to now include grandparents, etc.
Zachary had decided to include pets in that “circle” also… so, he included our two family pets… and then, my in-law’s dog – Diesel – as well. I said: “No… not Diesel’s boy… Diesel is not our dog….”. Well, therein was my mistake. Zachary loved anything having to do with the word “diesel” (because he especially loved diesel trucks)… and as such, when I said “no… not diesel”… there came that “unprovoked crying”. This was a reference he particularly associated with and I had just told him that he could not be associated with “diesel”. I had not realized what I had done in this particular instant. I had become quite good at “recognizing the issue”, but this time, it was my husband who had caught on and realized my error in all this and why Zachary had reacted the way he had – Zachary, as I had stated so often – very much associated his person – “with trucks” – as clearly shown in his “pretend play”.
Again, a part of his world of “references” had failed – and, with that failure had come – “unprovoked crying” – a form of crying that once understood – clearly was not – “unprovoked”.
Another example of Zachary’s “unprovoked crying” had to do with squeaky doors. Zachary particularly hated squeaky doors. Just the mention of them was enough to make Zachary cover his ears as if in pain. But, there was no “actual sound” – just the mention was enough to trigger a reaction in Zachary. Thus, again, clearly this had to do with a “reference system” of some kind. To Zachary, doors were not supposed to squeak and any door that did squeak had to be immediately “fixed”. I had once gone for a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. It had an old screen door that squeaked terribly. The entire time I was in the coffee shop, Zachary had his ears on his head and kept saying: “Oil the squeaky door, mom”. I told the woman about Zachary’s issue with squeaky doors as I tried to explain to him that some doors were old and “just squeaked and it was ok”. Yet, he still had difficulty with this particular issue. Even a “squeaky door” on a software program was enough to start that once seemingly unprovoked crying. To Zachary, all doors were supposed to be in good working order – anything less was unacceptable.
With all “unprovoked crying”, we now knew to look at what had been said in the last sentence or two, and therein, would be the answer to the problem – the reason for the provocation of “crying”… the reason for which the crying truly was not – “unprovoked”.
There was no doubt that all these details required a lot of energy. Yet, with a little practice, it actually became easier with time and required much less effort and as Zachary came to understand more and have “more references” – the situation simply became much easier over time in such matters.
Closely associated with the issue of “unprovoked crying”, was the issue of “unprovoked laughter”. There certainly had been times when I had noticed “unprovoked laughter” in Zachary. It very much appeared to me that “unprovoked laughter” also resulted from matters relating to “past references”.
The best example of this had to do with Zachary’s coming to appreciate that, in our interaction he needed not always do exactly what mom said. Life continued even if he did not always listen to mom and he began realizing that “not listening to mom” meant he could actually do things the way he wanted to. At the age of five, he certainly was making that “crossover” and becoming more independent. It was as I realized Zachary was beginning to truly assert his independence from mom that I noticed also how “unprovoked laughter” was also explained by issues relating to past references.
I had asked Zachary to “get ready for bed” and he had responded “no”. He was playing on his computer – something he loved to do – and wanted to continue doing so. This had been one of the first times he had actually “defied” his mother by saying “no” to one of my requests. Usuallly, upon hearing “get ready for bed” – the reference phrase – Zachary simply got up from his chair and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. But, that did not happen on this particular night. On this particular night, Zachary, upon hearing “get ready for bed”, had said – “no”.
I had been busy putting dishes in the dishwasher and had decided to complete the task before addressing the – “no” – issue. Because I had delayed in addressing that “no” issue, Zachary had apparently come to the realization that his world did not “cave in” if he failed to obey his mother – life indeed went on – and in this case – that “no” – it appeared – had allowed him to continue working a little longer on his computer.
Before I could even finish putting the dishes into the dishwasher – Zachary started laughing in that “unprovoked laughter” way – obviously, he was finding something very, very funny. At first I just assumed it had something to do with the work he was doing on the computer – that he had found something funny in his educational software. But, within seconds, I quickly realized that – indeed – that was not the case.
As he sat there and laughed, Zachary said: “I said no to mom”.
We had been working on proper pronoun usage and so, at first, I had focused on the “I” part of Zachary’s statement and said, “Yes, that’s right”. It was upon saying those words that I caught myself and realized what I was doing – providing reinforcement to a reference I certainly did not want him to think was “acceptable”. I did not want Zachary having a reference that saying “no to mom” – was ok. I thus hurried over to his computer area and began “working on changing that reference” so that he understood “no to mom” was not acceptable. As I tried to explain to him that “no to mom” was not acceptable, Zachary just laughed harder it seemed as he said again, “I said no to mom”.
He had said no to me in the past, but usually, when that happened, I did not delay in showing there were “consequences” to not listening to mom. On this particular occasion – I had delayed – and Zachary had, obviously, perceived “the advantages to him” in having said “no to mom”.
Thus, he very clearly realized that “his response” had been directly linked to his ability to “stay up and work on the computer a little longer”. In the past, “no” had pretty well not been tolerated. Of course, like all parents, not every “no” had been “caught” in the past. But, on this occasion, the difference was that Zachary had apparently come to a realization that a past reference – “saying no” could work to his advantage because in some cases – mom may not react – at least not right away. This time, for Zachary, “no” had worked in an unexpected way – an unexpected and all too quickly understood way – understood in the sense that saying “no” had meant he could do things “his way” – and with that – had come a realization within Zachary I had previously not had to deal with.
It had been obvious to me from this little incident – a small incident with big and ugly consequences for me as a parent – that Zachary ‘s “unprovoked laughter” was really the result of coming to a new understanding – a new way of seeing and using – a past reference – and this “new reference” had involved something that had been “pleasing” for Zachary – something that indeed had a reason within it - “to laugh”! As such, the laughter, clearly, was not “unprovoked” – it made perfect sense!
There was another example of this “unprovoked laughter”/humor that I had observed and could provide for parents. This example had to do with “a past reference” in terms of “the written word”.
Zachary was an excellent speller. Long gone were the days of “spell cat”… we had moved into the realm of “spell dragonfly”. I simply had to ask Zachary to spell a word and he would attempt it based on his knowledge of phonics. If he was a little unsure, or it was a word we had never spelled before, when I said a new word in the phrase “spell…”, Zachary would repeat the second word – the one he was being asked to spell – and say, “mom, spell…”. In other words, he usually wanted me to provide that first, correct spelling. Obviously, for those parents out there who were not good spellers, my advice was to use a dictionary because that first reference could be harder to change over time and so it was important to “get it right the first time”.
Whenever I provided a new word – a new label – in anything – I always tried to spell the “new word” or “label” for Zachary. That helped him tremendously. As such, Zachary had become an excellent speller. Once he committed something to memory, he pretty well knew it.
I had been reading a story with Zachary on my bed. In the morning, we usually worked on homework at the kitchen table and when I perceived Zachary was “fizzing out” – that was my cue that it was story time – with Zachary doing the reading. The best place to relax as we read was in my bedroom, on the bed, with lots of pillows to support our backs as we enjoyed yet another story together.
This particular story had been the story of two brothers helping each other. The older brother, near the end of the story shared a snack with the younger brother – green grapes. In the story, the younger brother – who loved green grapes – had anxiously awaited his delicious snack of “gween gwapes”. The little boy had difficulty with the letter “r” and so, it sounded like a “w”. And as such – green grapes – came out as “gween gwapes”.
When Zachary first read this, he had a very confused look on his face and he looked to me to see what my reaction would be when he read “gween gwapes”. Since Zachary was an excellent speller, he had noticed “something wrong” right away. But, he did not really understand that this was supposed to be “funny”. To Zachary, it was confusing – at least at first – and he looked to me for the “usual explanation”.
Sensing his confusion, I quickly said: “Oh, no… not “gween gwapes”… that should be “green grapes”… he can’t say his “r”s the right way”. Gween gwapes… how funny…gween gwapes”. As I said that, Zachary realized that this was “funny” and started to laugh in that unprovoked laughter type of way – that hardy laugh that used to seem to come from nowhere – as he repeated “gween gwapes”. He repeated those words several times – laughing so much with each utterance of the “gween gwapes”. Again, a past reference had been seen – in a new way – and in this case – it had involved both the spoken and written word as well as humor itself.
Laughter certainly was the expression of “an emotion”. Interestingly, emotion, categorization of objects (i.e., past references and new “funny” responses or phrases), auditory processing, short term and long term memory acquisition functions, the ability to distinguish between truth and a lie (i.e., right verses wrong spelling or “right” verses “wrong” response), face and voice recognition (recognizing mom and her responses, recognition of his own voice also as he said “gween gwapes), and understanding of language were all functions co-located in the temporal lobe area. All of these functions within the temporal lobe had been involved in these simple examples, and as such, had once again confirmed for me the fact that the various functions within one part of the brain could perhaps be much more inter-related than we could ever have imagined.
The understanding of “humor” had required the activation of almost the entire temporal lobe. Given issues of “reference living” and “impaired connectivity” due to possible mercury, aluminum or iron poisoning, or the impact of viruses in the brain, it was not surprising to me that children with autism had difficulty understanding humor because damage to the temporal lobe was clearly evident in autism.
This also had implications for the “control of emotions”- an area so difficult for the child with autism. Given that “control of emotions” was a function located not in the temporal lobe along with other “emotion” (i.e., laughter, sadness) functions but rather in the frontal lobe – it certainly made sense that this was such a difficult area for children with autism. The control of emotions had to be dependent on those “other functions” found in the frontal lobe – smell, motor activity, language production, higher functioning (concept of self, imagination, reasoning, etc.), and the assignment of meaning to words. Perhaps this explained why having Zachary repeat “it’s ok” had worked so well for him in helping to control his emotions (see Breaking The Code To Remove The Shackles Of Autism: When The Parts Are Not Understood And The Whole Is Lost!). This simple phrase involved - language production – and if my theory that the functions within a specific part of the brain were much more closely related than we could ever have imaged were correct – that would mean that language production – simply “saying the right thing” – would have implications for the actual control of emotions as well given these were functions co-located in the frontal lobe.
This certainly would also explain why Zachary was most “under control” when doing math or other “reasoning” type activities. Higher functions such as these were co-located in the frontal lobe along with “control of emotions”. This was also true of the assignment of meaning to words. There was no doubt that “word associations” triggered very specific emotional responses and that one often “lost control” based on “what he heard” or maintained or regained control of emotions based on something else that had been heard – another “word association”.
Of all of these functions “verbalized word association” – involving language production and word associations - in the frontal lobe – what I had referred to as “words to cope” in my second book - provided perhaps the best opportunity to help children with autism “maintain control” or “regain control” because verbal word associations were nothing more than “categorizations” relating to “emotions” and that provided a bridge to the temporal lobe where functions relating to categorization, emotions, understanding of language, memory acquisition, auditory processing, etc. were located – all functions certainly necessary to the control of emotions – something that was found in the frontal lobe. Thus the key was to somehow “bridge” the frontal and temporal lobe by using those functions that had “parallels” between the two. Interestingly, the most obvious parallel was probably that of smell – a sense that had functions in both the frontal and temporal lobe. This certainly could explain why “treats” worked so well in behavior therapy.
Note that given my concerns with insulin levels, I closely monitored Zachary’s sugar intake. Processed sugars were kept to a very minimum for several reasons. Sugars were known to increase hyperactivity and they also promoted “bad bacteria” growth in the intestine. Casein and gluten free pretzels or casein and gluten free crackers or rice milk provided much better alternatives than snacks made of processed sugars. Although I used to give Zachary casein and gluten free chocolate, that “treat” was now very limited as well and only rarely given in a very, very small amount. Of all these reasons, however, my concerns with insulin/glucose levels was by far the main reason for which I now carefully monitored sugars because abnormal insulin levels could certainly be a potentially, very, very serious problem.
As such, the sense of smell also provided opportunities for helping in matters of control of emotions. Often, if Zachary was upset, all I had to do was say, “do you want a glass a rice milk?” to trigger a word association of “something good” to help him regain control of his emotions. The senses of taste and smell were critical to emotion control and certainly explained why preferred “treats” could help bring a child “under control”.
The sense of smell and taste synapsed directly to the amygdale and the hippocampus and as such, perhaps issues with “recognizing emotions in others” – a function of the amygdale – a function so critical to socialization – could best be accomplished also by the use of taste and smell. As such, perhaps socialization involving “food, play and associated verbalizations” provided the best opportunity to help these children in matters relating to socialization.
The understanding of speech, the categorization of “emotions”, the understanding of “humor”, control of emotion, perception of emotions, etc. – these were all things that were so critical to conversation and socialization.