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J Autism Child Schizophr. 1978 Sep;8(3):281-92.

Sensorimotor functioning and communication in mute autistic children.


There were two purposes underlying this study: to describe the sensorimotor functioning of mute autistic children and to relate their sensorimotor performance to nonverbal communication. Twelve mute children, diagnosed autistic, ranging from 4 years 9 months to 12 years of age, were administered four scales of sensorimotor development from the Uzgiris and Hunt (1975) series: object permanence, gestural imitation, means for obtaining environmental events, and causality. Subjects performed most poorly on the imitation scale with 9 of 12 performing below Piaget's fifth sensorimotor stage. In contrast, performance was highest on the object permanence scale: No child scored below Stage V. Regarding the subjects' non-scales and Stage III on the imitation scale appeared to form minimal prerequisites for intentional communication in a variety of situations. Finally, none of the subjects, even those with relatively complete sensorimotor development, spontaneously used what Bates (1976) has called "protodeclarative" gestures to point out or show objects to adults. The absence of protodeclarative gestures may represent a qualitatively distinct pattern of prelinguistic development in certain autistic children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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