BASED on extensive clinical observations, we have suggested that children whose conditions are variously diagnosed as early infantile autism, atypical ego development, symbiotic psychosis, and certain cases of childhood schizophrenia suffer from a unitary disease.1 Their symptoms can be grouped in five subclusters involving disturbances of (1) perception, (2) motility, (3) developmental rate, (4) relationships to people and objects, and (5) language. It appears that the disturbances of perception, motility, and developmental rate are expressive of a primary neuropathophysiologic dysfunction2,3 which leads to disturbances of relating and language. The more severe and prolonged the neuropathophysiologic process, the more pervasive is the resultant ego pathology.
In seeking evidence to support these hypotheses, we have compared autistic children and age-matched controls on certain measures of neurophysiologic function and integration. The results of these studies have been reported in detail elsewhere.4-7 They indicate that normals and autistics differ in