Objective: The following case report describes a child with autistic symptoms who experienced early emotional deprivation and institutionalisation. The paper discusses her symptoms in relation to Melanie Klein's theories on object relationships.
Method: LM was a four year old Rumanian adoptee, when she was first assessed by a child service in Dublin. On presentation, she exhibited a spectrum of autistic symptoms including an impairment in social interaction, absence of separation anxiety, poor attachment formation with others and restricted, repetitive, stereotyped patterns of behaviour. While attending the pre-school, she was involved in an individualised programme which focused on her specific needs.
Result: After attending the pre-school programme, L exhibited a greater ability to express various emotions and her social interaction with others had improved, but she continued to have marked deficits in her personality. This child's symptoms are discussed with reference to the paranoid schizoid and depressive positions associated with ego development.
Conclusion: By applying Melanie Klein's theories on object relations, one can gain a further understanding of a child's pathological symptoms, ego development and the necessary treatments required to improve these symptoms.