Autistics: a command performance.Many clinicians who work with autistic autistic /au·tis·tic/ (aw-tis´tik) characterized by or pertaining to autism. children believe that the severe social and language problems characterizing the disorder affect nearly all behaviors and interactions. But psychologists Marian Sigman and Peter Mundy of the University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States). at Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. report that autistic children are not as unresponsive unresponsive Neurology adjective Referring to a total lack of response to neurologic stimuli to others as is commonly assumed.
The researchers studied 18 autistic, 18 mentally retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded and 18 nondisordered children interacting with their mothers in a series of 12-minute play periods. The children, who were around 4 years old, were observed during play with a doll, play with others, free play, exploration of a simple puzzle and a cleanup period.
Autistic children were as compliant to their mothers' commands during play sessions as were the other children, reports Sigman. Also, their responses were just as appropriate as those of the mentally retarded and nondisordered youngsters.
Autistics spent as much time with the puzzle and cleanup chores as did the other children, but spent less time playing with dolls. During doll play and play with other children, the mothers of autistics spent much more time in physical contact with their children than did the other mothers. Autistics appear to have a specific problem with "joint attention," says Sigman: They are less likely to point out things to their mothers or to attempt to share a play experience with them. But they are still able to respond often and correctly to maternal commands, she notes. Although most autistics are also mentally retarded, joint attention deficits appeared only in the autistic group.
Some autistics function much better than others, points out Justin Coll of UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX , and further studies should examine differences among autistics. "But clinicians need to be more careful in describing social deficits in autistics," he says.