London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Croydon 1966

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Croydon]

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71
Causes of Aphasia
There are many causes of aphasia amongst which the following are
the most frequent:—
(1) Illness (e.g. German Measles) in the mother during pregnancy may
damage brain tissues.
(2) Injuries during birth may cause brain damage.,
(3) Failure of certain brain tissues to develop.
(4) Head injuries causing brain damage.
(5) Diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis.
Occasionally the condition may be hereditary since more than one
child may be affected within a family, or a parent may be reported as
having been "slow in developing speech", or have had difficulty in learning
to read and write.
The Detection of Aphasic Children in Croydon
Non-speaking children are usually referred to a speech clinic at
three or four years of age. This referral may be advised by a doctor or
health visitor or may result from parents requesting help for their child.
These children develop normally apart from speech, and they may become
very frustrated by their inability to communicate. Some children are referred
to the speech clinic at the request of the Teacher of the Deaf, or
E.N.T. Specialist, to help to arrive at a differential diagnosis between
deafness and receptive aphasia. A child who has developed some speech
but is unintelligible will also be referred, although this may happen at
a slightly older age. In both cases the child will be observed carefully
and assessed.
Before a child may attend a speech clinic for regular observation
and/or therapy, he must be examined by a school medical officer who
attends the speech clinic regularly.
The child will attend for treatment once weekly in the first instance,
and on the first few occasions the speech therapist will question the
parent carefully as to the child's whole general development as the
speech defect must be considered as a part of a child's whole development
pattern. In most cases the young children are admitted to the senior
speech therapist's group of pre-school non-communicating children. This
allows the observation and assessment of each child over a period of
time, particularly when he is relaxed and playing with other children,
and serves to stimulate the use and development of speech.
If it is felt that a child may in fact have- a true language disorder,
then he will be brought forward for examination and diagnosis by
Croydon's consultant neurologist, Dr. C. Worster-Drought, who has held
regular sessions at the central speech clinic since 1961. Before this
examination the child will have had other tests completed, so that low
' diligence or deafness may be excluded as the cause of the disability.


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