In On The Action
My interest in children with various developmental disorders increased as I moved into Pediatrics.
The upshot of this was that I helped organize a multi-disciplinary clinic in Guilford County to evaluate such youngsters, to try to find what caused their problems, and to determine what, if anything, we could do to help them.
It, at least, served the purpose of having their parents feel, with some justification, that their youngsters had been studied closely by a group of professionals who were trying to remedy their child's problems, and follow them along in their development.
In addition to me -- a pediatrician with some supervised experience in child neurology -- we had a nurse who visited the family at home, a social worker who evaluated the nurtural aspects of the child's upbringing, and a child psychologist who tested the youngster's emotional and mental function.
Sometimes one of us picked up something the others hadn't detected, though as we gained experience working together we each found mostly nuances of what the others had found.
More and more our interest gravitated to children, not who were grossly retarded, mentally or neurologically handicapped, but to a group of children showing subtle problems in learning.
At that time, in the 1960's, these were relatively recently recognized entities.
Also, there were remediations including medication and special training which could help these young victims become more normal in function and progress.
Many of these tykes had trouble with language -- sometimes spoken, most often in reading, but sometimes both -- many had motor clumsiness, and most had very short attention spans which led to undirected and scattered activity.
This latter yielded perceived and actual hyperactivity and, often, to uncontrolled behavior.
This was a problem for families and teachers alike, but, at once, if it could be helped there was a good chance of aiding a child so affected to become more acceptable to self and others.
Frances Ameen was our clinic nurse who carried out home visits.
She is now unfortunately deceased, but was then robust and outgoing, showing almost constantly that rare combination of good humor and compassion.
She served well to establish a quick response to requests for help with which we couldn't deal with totally at once due to case-load, to prepare parents as to what they could expect from the clinic, as well as to apprise her co-workers of what went on in the home.
Working up one such youngster she gave us the whole story from what the mother first said to her: "He's so active he wears out his clothes from the inside".
April 3, 1996
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