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

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Walthamstow 1961

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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tendency to asthma in his mother s family). He is of good
average intelligence and school progress is entirely
3. In Brian s case there is no family history of a
hereditary factor or of severe respiratory infection. He
was perfectly healthy until his eighth birthday when father
left home and Brian and his mother had to seek shelter with
friends. His asthma attacks date from this time and are
precipitated by any anxiety or stress. He is now thirteen
and free from attacks at school but they occur most weekends
while at home His intelligence is well above average,
133 on Performance Tests, but this falls to 104 on a verbal
scale and his reading age is only eight and a half. His
real ability is inhibited and his asthma provoked by psychological
factors. He is receiving psychiatric treatment and
still needs the security of the sheltered environment of the
Special School.
The difficulties in classifying the multiply handicapped
child are illustrated by the cases of Jean and Neville.
Jean, a perfectly normal child, developed tuberculous
meningitis at six. This left her with a partial paralysis,
her right arm and leg being practically useless, the latter
being in irons. To add to her troubles severe epileptic
fits developed as a result of the damage to her brain and
her functional intelligence has steadily declined to its
present I.Q. level of 53. She is partially deaf with a
hearing loss (bilateral) for all frequencies of between 20
and 30 decibels. Jean is now fifteen a tall pleasant,
docile girl, who walks with a marked limp holding her
paralysed arm close to her side. Although drugs have
reduced the frequency of her fits, when these do occur they
are severe. She is now making very little academic progress
but she is developing socially and emotionally. Her subsequent
placement will be a problem as there is little likelihood
of her ever being economically employable.
Neville is little better; at fourteen and a half he is
a gentle, pleasant lad with strong glasses. All his
movements are hampered by gross athetoid inco-ordination
due to brain damage. He can walk, after a fashion, with
his legs spread wide apart but he prefers to hold on to
walls or furniture for support. He frequently falls to the
ground because it is quite impossible for him to recover
his balance, and he cannot go into the streets alone. His
intellectual capacity is of low average standard and his

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