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Ritvo, S. Provence, S. (1953). Form Perception and Imitation in Some Autistic Children: Diagnostic Findings and their Contextual Interpretation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 8:155-161.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 8:155-161

Form Perception and Imitation in Some Autistic Children: Diagnostic Findings and their Contextual Interpretation

Samuel Ritvo, M.D. and Sally Provence, M.D.

In this communication we report certain findings in a group of deviant children seen for diagnosis at the Child Study Center of Yale University. From a larger number of children seen during the past two years who belong to the group described by Bender (1947), Kanner (1943), Mahler (1952), and others, as autistic or psychotic children, we have selected six ranging in age from twenty-two to thirty-nine months. In every case the working diagnosis of the referring physician or clinic was mental retardation. The absence of speech and language development in the third year was the immediate reason for referral. The age may be of particular interest in view of the fact that these children are younger than those usually reported in the literature. The findings on developmental appraisal to which we would like to call attention are the age-adequate or superior performance on the form board and other form perception items, and the paucity of imitation.

In their development these children showed the disturbances which have been reported by other observers: in the areas of human object relations, relation to toys and playthings, motility patterns, and language. Although disturbance in human contact and object relations is sometimes not brought as presenting symptom by the parents, when it is elicited in the history given by the parents and formulated by the psychiatrist, it is then readily recognized by the parents as one of the central difficulties.

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