This paper will look at cognitive processes. More specifically it will look at language, problem solving, and decision making. Both problem solving and decision making fall under executive functions. These are the cognitive functions that help us organize and complete daily tasks. This paper will look at what these processes are, what they do, and what today’s research shows.
Our text describes language as our processing of spoken language. Whether we are processing what we hear or what we speak it all needs to be processed. When someone has a deficit in language they may not be able to process what is being said to them correctly, they may not be able to speak as well. Auditory processing disorder is where a person does not fully process what is being said to them. You may tell a child with this to do something and they only process the start of the request but do not do the middle because they never processed what was asked of them.
“Children with APD demonstrate difficulties in one or more areas of perceptual processing of auditory information, such as sound localization and lateralization; auditory discrimination; auditory pattern recognition; temporal aspects of audition, including temporal integration, temporal discrimination (e.g., temporal gap detection), temporal ordering, and temporal masking; auditory performance in competing acoustic signals (including dichotic listening); and auditory performance with degraded acoustic signals. (American Speech-
Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 2005, p. 2)” (Miller, 2011)
When a person has a problem processing what they hear this can affect how they learn language. We use language for many things reading, writing, and communication are a few examples. The development of language is a mental process which can change overtime. Look at learning a new language; children can learn multiple languages easier than adults. Disorders such as Alzheimer’s can make a person lose their ability to process language. Different things going on in a person’s cognitive functions can affect their overall language process.
Problem solving is how we reach goals. How do you organize the steps you need to take to finish the task at hand? An example of this is taking a shower. You need to have all the soap and shampoo ready and know what to do. In washing your hair you have to wet your hair, lather, and then rinse. If there is a dysfunction in one’s problem solving they may in this example lather their hair without first getting it wet.
In the case of people with autism one of the factors is a dysfunction in their problem solving. They cannot always readily see the correct response to a situation. Sometimes the environment is over stimulating and they cannot think. O’Connor and Stichter looked at a program called ready set go to be used with children with autism. In this program they first look at the problem, then what the solutions may be and finally which of the options are the correct response. The image shows how mapping out a problem can be helpful.
There are many different approaches to help with problem solving and organization.There are visual charts, different types of organizers, and many other approaches. Each person is different so each person will have a different thing that works for them.
The same study also talked about the unlock approach to problem solving. In this approach you think of a locker. The acronym unlock stands for: Use a self-control strategy, Name the problem, List your solutions, Out the consequences, Choose the solution, Keep your locker open.
In both approaches Ready, Set, Go, and unlock the problem is broken down into parts. By breaking a problem down into manageable parts one can focus on one thing at a time. They also can look at what the solutions are as well as what the consequences may be. In the case of autism just taking the time to break down the problem may be enough to help the person feel in control again.
Decision making is very closely related to problem solving. If one does not have the ability to problem solve they more than likely cannot make a decision. The cognitive process of decision making is similar to the Ready, Set, Go program discussed in problem solving. The person needs to look at what decision needs to be made, what the options are, and what the best path to take will be.
Conjunction Fallacy or being able to state what is most likely to happen plays a role in decision making. “The conjunction fallacy has been cited as a classic example of the automatic contextualization of problems.” (Morsanyi, Handley, & Evans, 2010). The study done by Morsanyi, Handley, and Evans looked at adolescents with autism to see how conjunction fallacy affected them. They used two groups one with autism, asbergers and PDD-NOS were excluded as was multiple diagnoses. The other group was neurotypical peers with no known disabilities.
In the study they gave both groups lists of statements and they had to mark which was more probable. The interesting thing was the group with autism was less affected by conjunction fallacy than the neurotypical peers. The reasoning they came up with for this difference is people tend to look back at experiences in their reasoning and decisions. The difference between the autism group and neurotypical was the neurotypical group would make more of a global representation of a situation, while the group with autism looks more at specific experiences they have had.
They also stated since many autistic people cannot pick up irony, metaphors, or non-literal language they also have a deficit in automatic inference which is why they do not make the global representations their neurotypical peers do. Not being able to make global references can affect a person with autism in their decision making. Because they only look at specific experiences one by one and not experiences as a total everything must be set in stone.
The different parts of our cognitive processes all work together so we can accomplish our goals. Any dysfunction in any of the areas of cognition can have a snowball effect on one’s life. If they have a language problem they may not understand what they are reading or being told to be able to problem solve and make the correct decision.
Many people such as people with autism have multiple deficits in their cognitive processes which can make it harder to do things. It is important to remember the person who you may think just makes bad decisions may actually have a cognitive problem that makes it harder for them to make the right choice.
Miller, C. A. (2011). Auditory Processing Theories of Language Disorders: Past, Present, and Future. Language, Speech & Hearing Services In Schools, 42(3), 309-319. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/10-0040)
Morsanyi, K., Handley, S., & Evans, J. (2010). Decontextualised minds: adolescents with autism are less susceptible to the conjunction fallacy than typically developing adolescents. Journal Of Autism And Developmental Disorders, 40(11), 1378-1388.
O'CONNOR, K. V., & STICHTER, J. P. (2011). Using Problem-Solving Frameworks to Address Challenging Behavior of Students With High-Functioning Autism and/or Asperger Syndrome. Beyond Behavior, 20(1), 11-17.
Robinson-Riegler, G., & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.