The records of 43 children with mongolism living at home are reviewed to determine what the presence of such a child means to the parents and the normal siblings.
Long-range decisions are usually not needed for the infant with mongolism, and the pediatrician can best serve the child and his family by assuring them that it is "all right" to have the child at home. In this series only two families were disrupted during the neonatal period of the affected infant.
The child with mongolism will require somewhat more than average medical care, and his parents will need more than average support and continuous counseling.
Of 43 families, 31 adjusted to the affected child without adverse effect on their way of living. The families with problems were found to need specific help and were referred to social workers or family agencies.
In 33 families the normal siblings adjusted to the abnormal one with minimal adverse effects; several teen-age siblings were more realistic than their parents in accepting the assets and limitations of the handicapped child.
As the child with mongolism approaches adolescence, he may be deprived of optimal training and personal guidance if he continues to live at home and in a community where no provisions are made for him; and without an adequate plan, he may come to dominate family living. In communities where special classes, social groups and sheltered workships exist, the pediatrician can continue judicious temporizing.
Through his continuing contacts with the affected child and his family, the pediatrician can support the parents in their decisions, at the same time pointing out the values and hazards of keeping the child at home at various stages of development.
- Copyright © 1959 by the American Academy of Pediatrics