Date of Award

Spring 1967

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

Abstract

The day that the couple brought the first baby home from the hospital was marked on the calender with a red circle. Each new weight gain and step forward was to be inscribed in the leather-bound baby book. The grandparents and relatives besieged the new arrival with gifts of all kinds. As the baby grew, the mother knew that something was wrong because Baby was not walking or gurggling or sitting up as soon as the other children in the neighborhood. Anxious not to be called a bad mother, she spoke to the pediatrician about it, hoping that perhaps the diet was at fault. The doctor suggested many tests and made another appointment with both the parents to discuss the results. He spent hours evaluating the results and framing the conversation with the new parents. Their two-year-old child was retarded. When the day came to break the news, the mother sat in a stunned and tearful silence and the father stormed and shouted about the impossibility of such a thing ever happening in his family. Together the couple walked out of the office in search of a more pleasant and less guilt-ridden diagnosis. For a year they visited every doctor and clinic within their limited budget and savings—each time with the same results. The child, was retarded.

They could, not accept such a verdict. It brought shame upon them and they began to denounce each other in their grief. They could not force themselves to accept the fact that the child would not live up to their own mental capacities. For a time, they could not even accept their own child. Then came the day when all the tears and recriminations were recognized as a psychological front and partial acceptance was made. They made a visit to the first doctor and quietly asked what they could do for their child. This is a piece of fiction which is happening in a similar way to many families in the country and the world. Mental retardation is a fact that cannot be hidden and parents must accept that fact and the child and work with doctors and social workers to make his life as joyful and rewarding as possible. In the following pages, the real problem of the retarded is to be brought out and some aides to guiding the parents pointed out since this is a field in which there is need of much work.

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