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The Power of Metacognition: Thinking about Thinking, Language, and Communication

By August 16, 2023November 9th, 2023No Comments

Words hold immense power. Language serves as a vehicle for communication, shaping how we interact with others. But what happens when there’s a disconnect between comprehension and expression? This is where metacognition comes into play – the awareness and understanding of one’s thought processes. As a former language arts teacher, I find myself constantly contemplating the importance of metacognition, particularly in businesses that collaborate with the autism community. Let’s delve into this concept and explore its impact.

The Role of Language: Expressive and Receptive

As individuals, we all possess unique traits, some evident through our five senses, while others remain unseen. Confirming comprehension, especially in the context of language, can be challenging.

 How does Language- receptive and expressive fit into metacognition? Expressive language refers to our ability to articulate our thoughts, while receptive language involves our capacity to understand incoming information. In a simple blog post, it’s impossible to cover all aspects of this complex topic, but let’s take the first step on this intriguing journey.

Understanding Language Development

Think back to young children, even mere weeks old, who are already aware of their surroundings. As they grow, their exposure to sounds – words, tones, rhythms – gradually builds their understanding of language. By around two years of age, a toddler typically understands around 100 words and can combine them in phrases like “go bye-bye.” However, they may comprehend more words than they can verbally express. This normal developmental phase becomes crucial when we consider individuals on the autism spectrum. Due to differences in expressive and receptive language, they might be misunderstood and misjudged.

Embracing Metacognition: Knowing Ourselves

Metacognition involves recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, ultimately enabling us to optimize our cognitive processes. At Mind Shift, we build on this concept to prepare individuals on the autism spectrum for the workplace. The process comprises three key tasks:

1. Self-Monitoring

Individuals observe their tools and strategies while performing a task.

 2. Self-Evaluating

Reflecting on the chosen process and analyzing the obtained results.

 3. Self-Regulating

In the third step of Self-Regulating, individuals utilize the information gathered from the initial two steps and inquire, “What modifications do I need to make in order to achieve the desired outcomes?”.

If the outcome was as desired, something must change. The old axiom, often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein or Ben Franklin, certainly rings true. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

In essence, metacognition empowers individuals to communicate and work more effectively and efficiently and Mind Shift helps business leads, managers, and people understand these concepts.

Practical Implications: Effective Communication

The beauty of metacognition lies in its ability to increase awareness not only of ourselves but also of others.While we may not all learn and think the same way, if we increase our awareness, understand what works for us, and communicate that to others effectively and efficiently, there would be fewer misunderstandings and judgments of others.

Going back to the earlier question,” What would happen if someone asks you to explain a concept that you understand (receptive language) that you can’t explain through languages (expressive language)?”

Mind Shift shows businesses and the people that work for them the value of demonstrating what they know rather than telling what they know.

When we recognize our unique learning and thinking styles and effectively communicate our strengths and challenges, misunderstandings and judgments can be minimized. For individuals on the autism spectrum, whose receptive language may surpass their expressive abilities, this becomes particularly crucial.

They can  effectively demonstrate their knowledge through practical means rather than verbalizing it.

 The goal of the person who asked the question is to confirm that a person knows what to do and how to do it. Using language to communicate merely confirms the individual’s linguistic abilities, not necessarily the skills to do the task. By implementing metacognitive practices, we can all attain the necessary understanding to do our work most effectively.

In conclusion, metacognition serves as a powerful tool in understanding ourselves and others better. By recognizing the interplay between expressive and receptive language, businesses can foster an inclusive and supportive environment for individuals on the autism spectrum. Mind Shift’s commitment to empowering these individuals with metacognitive practices opens up new avenues for effective communication and workplace success. So, let’s embrace the metacognitive force and unlock our true potential! Happy “thinking about your thinking.