Laurent Danon-Boileau

The Child Who Wouldn’t Speak New Edition Publication date : January 14, 2010

Most two-year-olds can put two words together. By the age of four, most children can talk. Yet some children remain silent — and if they do try to talk their use of language is somewhat strange.

Rachid, for example, speaks only to recite the names of objects, but he is unable to express his wants. Kim names what she is shown, but she communicates essentially through gestures — for example miming to show that her brother is at school. Neither child is autistic or aphasic, yet they have failed to find the path to language.

That is the path that Laurent Danon-Boileau seeks to discover with them, in a series of weekly meetings in which he draws on his skills as a child psychoanalyst and as a specialist in linguistics. His task is one that requires patience and great persistence.

• The various stories that make up this book offer a unique insight into the birth of language and into its difficulties.

Laurent Danon-Boileau is a therapist working at the Centre Alfred-Binet, a professor of linguistics at the University of Paris-V and a research fellow at the CNRS Laboratory for the Study of Language Acquisition and Pathologies in Childhood. He is the author of La Parole est un jeu d'enfant fragile (2007) and Des Enfants sans langage (2001).