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October 2021

Children with autism experience problems with both objects and people

Author(s): Costall, A., Reddy, V.

Journal/Book: J Autism Dev Disord. 1999; 29: 233 Spring St, New York, NY 10013, USA. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publ. 367-378.

Abstract: Kanner (1943), in his classic account, described autism as a specific impairment in interpersonal relations which leaves the child's uses of objects relatively unaffected. This combination of the difficulties in relating to people and the supposedly ''excellent'' relations to objects figures centrally within many of the current theories of autism, which have had relatively little to say on the question of object use. This paper draws attention to evidence of widespread impairments in relating to objects, not only in interpersonal aspects of object use but also in early sensorimotor exploration and the functional and conventional uses of objects. In stressing these problems with objects, our purpose is not to downplay the social dimension of autism, but rather to highlight the reciprocal nature of the interactions between the child, other people, and objects. Given the evidence that other people play an important role in introducing objects to children, we propose that an impairment in interpersonal relations should itself lead us to expect corresponding disruption in the autistic child's use of objects. Conversely, an unusual use of objects is likely to manifest itself in disturbances in relating to other people, given the importance of a shared understanding and use of objects in facilitating interaction.

Note: Article Williams E, King Alfreds Coll, Dept Psychol, Sparkford Rd, Winchester SO22 4NP, Hants, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): autism; object use; interpersonal relations; DEVELOPMENTAL LANGUAGE DELAY; 1ST 2 YEARS; SYMBOLIC PLAY; INFANTILE-AUTISM; JOINT ATTENTION; PRETEND PLAY; COMMUNICATION; BEHAVIOR; IMITATION; SYMPTOMS


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