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Pediatrics. 1991 Dec;88(6):1211-8.

Autistic and dysphasic children. I: Clinical characteristics.

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Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.


Autism and dysphasia are behaviorally defined disorders of higher cerebral function which in preschool children share the common core symptom of impairment of language. In this study we describe the clinical characteristics of 314 autistic and 237 dysphasic nonautistic children evaluated by one child neurologist. There was no significant difference between autistic and dysphasic children in gestational age, birth weight, or prevalence of associated medical disorders, all of which were infrequent, although a positive history of resuscitation or ventilatory support was more common in dysphasic than autistic children (P = .03). As a group autistic children are more likely than dysphasic children to have language subtypes affecting central processing and formulation, a family history of psychiatric disorders and autism, and a history of regression of language and behavior. After excluding 12 girls with autistic symptoms who met the clinical criteria for Rett syndrome, we found that there was no significant difference in the number of autistic and dysphasic children with an abnormal sensorimotor examination. Girls with autism were more likely than boys to have severe mental deficiency (38% of autistic girls vs 23% of boys) (P = 0.012) and a motor deficit (27% vs 11%) (P = .0009).

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