The relation of infantile autism and early childhood schizophrenia to developmental language disorders of childhood

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Evidence and arguments are presented to support a thesis that central language deficits related to those found in children with developmental aphasia, but more severe, may be the necessary and sufficient cause of behavior which marks children as autistic and schizophrenic. Deficits which may cut across sensory modalities and differ between individuals, but remain stable within, can be identified in both groups. The two groups also share difficulties such as sequencing problems and deficiencies related to meaning of words that are more subtle than echolalia and pronominal reversal. Language deficits, however, are not said to be the only ones, as other handicaps may account for some variability in clinical cases. Also presented are two case reports illustrating results of an experimental nine-word language used in training and testing of psychotic children.

A part of this paper was presented at the Fifth World Congress of Psychiatry on November 30, 1971 in Mexico City. The study was supported in part by Public Health Service Grant No. MH 05154 and also by LaRue D. Carter Memorial Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana.