The postulations outlined in The Other Child (1951), Lewis' seminal discussion of children (like his own) with learning problems, have been confirmed over time: early, appropriate intervention can alter learning patterns, enhancing academic achievement and contributing--in many cases--to a productive, independent adulthood. In this follow-up, he examines historical attitudes toward intelligence, abortive 19th-century efforts to offer alternative education, the pervasive distortions of the eugenics movement, and the breakthroughs of the last 30 years which have transformed opinion and opened up the large field of special education. In tracing the development of current distinctions (educable/ trainable; brain-injury/learning disability), he describes some programs of the Fifties, refinements of the Sixties (""Hire the Handicapped""), and the status of their participants today--mostly upstanding adults, valued as workers for their lower-than-average absenteeism and steady performance. Some are institutionalized; many still have difficulty reading; a large number have limited social contacts and remain in their parents' homes. But a sizeable proportion have families of their own, and several are unusually successful: one is a commodities broker (bullish on coffee early in 1976), another a psychological diagnostician with his own learning disabilities center. Lewis insists that the split-hair legal distinctions--retarded, disabled, etc.--no longer pertain. The importance of intervention has been corroborated and public policy should reflect this, providing a variety of educational opportunities to accommodate different learning styles--main-streaming can't help everyone. Written in crisp declarative sentences, this is a lucid report on a highly charged issue.
Pub Date: Nov. 10, 1977
Page Count: -
Publisher: Times Books (formerly Quadrangle/New York Times)