An effort is made in this paper to present a psychoanalytically oriented but flexibly implemented approach to the evaluation of and treatment planning for autistic children and their families. Our etiological hypotheses are differentiated from those of both the purely psychogenic and the purely organic schools. The impossibility of separating evaluation and treatment is emphasized. Therapeutic techniques and implications will be mentioned secondarily, but a technical discussion of the treatment process will be deferred to later publication.
In the evaluation and treatment of any psychiatric disorder, one's theoretical frame of reference influences one's assumptions, observations, and planning. In the case of infantile autism, although some authors continue to assume a single etiological agent,1,1a there is an increasing trend in the literature toward stressing multiple factors in the etiology of autism as well as in other syndromes.2 This multifactorial approach leads