Behavioural patterns in infantile autism: A contribution to the debate on a unitary syndrome

M. De Negri, E. Zanotto, M. G. Baglietto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infantile autism, as defined by the international criteria presently adopted in accordance with the DSM III-R, comprises forms that differ not only in etiology, as generally accepted, but also from the behavioural viewpoint. This paper presents a group of 15 patients, aged 2-8 years, assessed by plotting findings on a chart from which the true 'autistic' component (a specific defect in interpersonal relations) could be determined and isolated from possible defective components. The following activities. were assessed by analyzing a series of videotape recordings: play, mimic gestural expressivity, smiling, eye contact, language, interpersonal relations. Three groups of cases were described: (1) Rett's syndrome (as a typical example of the autistic condition in progressive neurologic illness); (2) defective low-functioning conditions ('autism' associated with non-evolutive brain damage and/or mental retardation); (3) primary high-functioning conditions, or Kanner's autism (without any evidence of organic brain damage and with normal or only slightly retarded mental development). The factors recognizable as true 'autism' are always present and predominant in group 3, inconsistent in group 2 and absent in group 1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Brain Dysfunction
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Behavioural patterns
  • Infantile autism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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