Cover image for The silent child : exploring the world of children who do not speak
The silent child : exploring the world of children who do not speak
Danon-Boileau, Laurent, 1946-
Uniform Title:
Enfant qui ne disait rien. English
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oxford University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
188 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RJ506.M87 D3613 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



towards speech. The author emphasizes that a child's trouble can stem from different causes: there are neurological problems similar to those of aphasia; there are cognitive impairments; and, of course, there are psychological disorders. Professor Danon-Boileau argues that language disorderstoday are too often considered from one particular point of view-sometimes psychological, sometimes neurological. In order to understand the possible causes of, and solutions to, these disorders, it is necessary to take into account the interaction of these two elements. Those who have effectivelyworked with speechless children know all too well that their pathology and behaviour do not necessarily fit into general nosographic descriptive categories. The originality of this book is that it gives a concrete and precise narrative of six individual case studies and tries to draw general conclusions from both a linguistic and a psychoanalytic point of view, thus reflecting the wide-ranging expertise of the author. It will be essential reading forprofessionals within the field of psychoanalysis and speech therapy; academics and students in language acquisition, speech therapy, and developmental psychology; as well as parents who are concerned with their children's language development.

Author Notes

Laurent Danon-Boileau is Professor of General Linguistics and Language Acquisition at the Sorbonne. He is also a practicing psychoanalyst who works with children at the Centre Alfred-Binet, in Paris. He has published widely in the area of linguistics and psychoanalysis and is also a novelist

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this absorbing account of the treatment of children who have great difficulty communicating in spoken language, Danon-Boileau, a practicing child psychoanalyst and professor of linguistics and languages at the Sorbonne, draws on the case studies of six of his own patients. With the exception of Pierre, aged 17, his patients were seven years old or younger. Working on the assumption that language development rests on "the wish to build contact with others," Danon-Boileau believes that the younger a child is when he or she enters treatment, the greater the chances of success. In each case, he allows the child to lead him through a course of play therapy; treatment is based on an intuitive sense of what will work for a particular patient rather than on a single method or pedagogy. The analyst found, for example, that by encouraging the adolescent Pierre to draw pictures to represent words facilitated the acquisition of speech. Kim, a four-year-old who expressed herself through a private language, incomprehensible to others, improved somewhat when Danon-Boileau described to her the games she was playing with her toys in exact speech. These observations, coming from a caring and humane therapist, will be of great use to those working in the fields of psychology and linguistics, as well as to the parents of children with speech problems. (Sept.) Forecast: The cases themselves are mesmerizing, but Danon-Boileau's writing may be a bit academic for many readers. However, an enthusiastic blurb from the well-known Jerome Bruner may help convince fans of Oliver Sacks's books to take the plunge. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Translator's notep. ix
Introductionp. 1
1. What Game Are We Playing?p. 7
2. Fabien: Thinking without Wordsp. 24
3. Kim: Seeking One's Own Languagep. 44
4. Rachid: Word and Gesturep. 72
5. Benjamin: Reality and Fictionp. 106
6. Pierre: Thinking with Broken Speechp. 123
7. What is 'Quality' in Language?p. 142
Conclusionp. 154
Appendix Some Ideas from the Back of my Mindp. 159
Bibliographyp. 174
Indexp. 181