Title

Playing with Words: The Active Role of Language in Everyday Occupations

Start Time

15-10-2009 3:45 PM

End Time

15-10-2009 5:15 PM

Abstract

Occupational therapy has traditionally identified itself as a “doing” rather than “talking” therapy, overlooking the role that language plays in a variety of occupational settings as beyond its domain. However, what happens when talking is doing, and under which circumstances does this occur? In this paper, we propose that the study of language, when viewed as an active performance component of occupations, may be able to contribute a unique depth and insight into our understanding of occupations that has, until now, been largely ignored in clinical, research, and theoretical realms. Drawing from occupational therapy, occupational science, anthropology, and neuroscience literature, we focus on ways in which we actively perform language to shape our identities and engage with others. In doing so, we build a case for language as a critical component of occupational performance that affects both our individual participation in daily activities as well as our co-participation and orchestration of social occupations with others. Such an argument has important implications for methodology in occupational science research as incorporating the performance of language into our study of occupation expands the scope of our focus and requires detailed techniques that can capture subtle performative features of occupational acts. We also review recent neuroimaging evidence for direct biological ties between language and motor actions, centered around a region in the brain known as Broca’s area, which supports both the production and perception of language and motor actions. The quantitative methodology of neuroscience findings provides complementary data to support and enhance qualitative accounts of occupation from occupational science. Throughout this paper, we demonstrate the application of occupational science to a variety of disciplines as we integrate findings from diverse fields of study—both qualitative and quantitative—to form our arguments. We conclude by reviewing the valuable benefits of attending to language as a component of daily occupations in both occupational therapy practice and occupational science realms.

References

Aziz-Zadeh, L., & Damasio, A. (2008). Embodied semantics for actions: Findings from functional brain imaging. J Physiol Paris, 102(1-3), 35-39. DOI: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2008.03.012

Clark, F. A., & Steingold, L. R. (1982). A potential relationship between occupational therapy and language acquisition. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 36(1), 42-44.

Lawlor, M. C. (2003). The significance of being occupied: the social construction of childhood occupations. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57(4), 424- 434. DOI: 10.5014/ajot.57.4.424

Mattingly, C. (2008). Reading minds and telling tales in a cultural borderland. ETHOS, 36(1), 136-154. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1352.2008.00008.x

Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The mirror-neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27, 169-192. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.27.070203.144230

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Oct 15th, 3:45 PM Oct 15th, 5:15 PM

Playing with Words: The Active Role of Language in Everyday Occupations

Occupational therapy has traditionally identified itself as a “doing” rather than “talking” therapy, overlooking the role that language plays in a variety of occupational settings as beyond its domain. However, what happens when talking is doing, and under which circumstances does this occur? In this paper, we propose that the study of language, when viewed as an active performance component of occupations, may be able to contribute a unique depth and insight into our understanding of occupations that has, until now, been largely ignored in clinical, research, and theoretical realms. Drawing from occupational therapy, occupational science, anthropology, and neuroscience literature, we focus on ways in which we actively perform language to shape our identities and engage with others. In doing so, we build a case for language as a critical component of occupational performance that affects both our individual participation in daily activities as well as our co-participation and orchestration of social occupations with others. Such an argument has important implications for methodology in occupational science research as incorporating the performance of language into our study of occupation expands the scope of our focus and requires detailed techniques that can capture subtle performative features of occupational acts. We also review recent neuroimaging evidence for direct biological ties between language and motor actions, centered around a region in the brain known as Broca’s area, which supports both the production and perception of language and motor actions. The quantitative methodology of neuroscience findings provides complementary data to support and enhance qualitative accounts of occupation from occupational science. Throughout this paper, we demonstrate the application of occupational science to a variety of disciplines as we integrate findings from diverse fields of study—both qualitative and quantitative—to form our arguments. We conclude by reviewing the valuable benefits of attending to language as a component of daily occupations in both occupational therapy practice and occupational science realms.