Laurent Danon-Boileau

Children Without Language Publication date : January 1, 2002

“I have been treating children [with language difficulties] for the past ten years, and making clinical observations from three theoretical points of view: I have used linguistics, psychoanalysis and recent finding in the cognitive sciences. My aim is not to pigeonhole such children. It is first of all to observe how some of them do acquire language and how to favour language acquisition — for the fact is that a significant number of them, after an admittedly slow process, eventually start speaking. The routine observation of the progress made by these children contains a wealth of theoretical information, enabling us to determine the conditions that must be met for speech acquisition to occur: how other humans beings, the world and our own thoughts should be represented before we can embark on the game of verbal communication. By taking into account and examining the difficulties encountered when working with such children, and by paying attention to the specific character of their development, we will be able to provide essential information for anyone wishing to reflect seriously on a central issue for all of us: Why speak?” writes Laurent Danon-Boileau.

Laurent Danon-Boileau, a linguist, psychoanalyst and writer, specialises in children suffering from communication and language difficulties. He is a psychotherapist at the Centre Alfred-Binet and teaches linguistics at the University of Paris-V. He is one of the editors of the magazine Faits de langue and the author of L’Enfant qui ne disait rien. He has also written three novels, La Stupeur, Romain l’égaré and Un homme ficelé, and a television script, Irène et sa folie, directed by Bernard Queyranne.