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

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Walthamstow 1955

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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"These figures show a significant rise in the number of children
seen whose I.Q's. were below 75. They include children already
attending the E.S.N. School, where a systematic reviewing of all
children has begun this year. A problem is revealed if these results
are further analysed. It is rare to admit to the E.S.N. School any
child with I.Q. above 70 because of lack of accommodation, and
there is therefore the following situation in regard to the children
needing E.S.N, schooling. Of the 110 children seen who came
within this category, 32 are already attending the E.S.N. School.
43 have I.Q's. of 70 or less and have therefore been recommended
and placed on the waiting list for the Special School. There remain
35 children in normal schools with I.Q. between 70 and 75 of whom
some might benefit by special education.
"At the end of the summer term a further survey of the
reading attainment of children aged seven was made at the request
of the Education Committee.
"During the year the Psychologist gave a course of four lectures
on the Teaching of Reading, four lectures on Adolescence, and talks
were given to Parent-Teacher Groups of four schools."
(g) Paediatric Clinic.—The clinic was continued under the
clinical charge of Dr. Elchon Hinden, Paediatrician to Whipps Cross
Hospital, who reports as follows:—
"There has been no change in the pattern of diseases referred
to the clinic. Acute illness of any sort is rare, and in general the
majority of the patients are not suffering from organic disease at
all; but there are a few chronic illnesses of childhood which cause
much anxiety. Epilepsy is such a one.
"As we lack precise diagnostic criteria, we cannot tell how
common epilepsy is. Many babies throw a solitary fit, and it is
impossible to say whether or no this is epilepsy. This difficulty in
diagnosis is always encountered at the first fit, and I believe it cannot
be overcome. It is not possible to say whether the first fit will
remain the only one, or whether it is merely the start of a long
series. Most observers have found that of all children who sustain
a fit without overt cause, about 25% will continue to be subject to
them. The recording of the electrical impulses set up by the brain
—electroencephalography (abbreviated EEG)—will often provide
great help in diagnosis, and I am indebted to the EEG Department
at Goodmayes Hospital for their courtesy in performing the tests
for me.
"Epilepsy, known for centuries as 'the sacred disease' is still
regarded with superstitious fear by the general public, and the
epileptic is looked on as one set apart from his fellows. But in fact
he is very much the same as the rest of us. All of us would convulse
if given a strong enough stimulus; the only difference is that the
epileptic throws a fit for a stimulus which is too weak to be apparent

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