Blindisms and autistic manifestations : An implied relationship



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Exploring the parallels between the autistic and the severely disturbed blind child, an attempt is made to explain stereotypic behaviors found in both conditions on the basis of similar etiologic dynamics. Stereotypies are seen as the expression of diffuse energy stemming from neurogenic or nonspecific drive states. Such central forces strive for structure within the environment via channelized and well- guided activity, but remain nonadaptive, unorganized, and unfocused when functional or organic deafferentation occurs. Under normal peripheral and central receptor usage, the central force becomes organized into distinct motives, serving in summation, as a pervasive self-actualization tendency. When sensory isolation imposes delimited afferent activity, early in infant ego development, behavior remains fixated in an attempt to achieve general arousal and to maintain some semblance of perceptual constancy. Since exteroceptive stimulation is needed for successful environmental interaction, the autistic child and the blind child may exhibit stereotypies not only to increase deficient environmental stimulation, but also to achieve structure and affect the environment. The stereotyped, and self-stimulating behaviors remain as a prepotent, highly concentrated motive since the immature ego fails to develop the neural organizations necessary for the integration of externally directed behaviors. The stereotype phenomenon is referred to as a neurogenic substitution theory and support is given through studies concerned with the effects of sensory isolation, neural dysfunction at central and peripheral levels, and impaired ego functions. These studies are also reported to emphasize the possible similarities between etiological factors producing autism and those precipitating so-called 'blindisms'.



Autism, Blind children