Imitation in autistic, early schizophrenic, and non-psychotic subnormal children
Experimental psychotic children, 9 boys and 3 girls (mean age=66.9 mos.) were compared with 5 non-psychotic subnormal boys (mean age=72 mos.) in body imitation, motor-object imitation and spontaneous object use and also for influence of task class and difficulty using each subject's adaptive age as referant. Psychotic children did poorly in body, better in motor-object imitation and best in object use. Controls achieved higher body and motor-object imitation scores. Task difficulty equally affected the performances of subjects and controls. Body imitation failure, traced to neurophysiological deficiencies, combined with severe central language disorders in the psychotic group, precluded non-verbal and verbal interpersonal communication. It is suggested that during early life, psychotic children, unlike the subnormal who have less severe visual-motor or language processing handicaps, cannot use parents' help to interpret environment.
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