How to Make Children with Down’s Syndrome Well
We believe that children with Down’s Syndrome can become fully well, well like you and me, the parents.
When a Down’s Syndrome baby is born, it is not very far behind other babies in development. But because it doesn’t develop as quickly as other children, over the months and years the Down’s Syndrome’s condition becomes worse and worse. There are so many myths surround Down’s Syndrome that when I say Down’s children can be made normal, people literally scream that such a thing is impossible. So you see, the main problem is that we are programmed to seek defeat with Down’s Children.
Are all Down’s Children alike?
There are degrees to everything. There are degrees of being athletic, degrees of being autistic, and I believe there are degrees of being Down’s. Some children are so Down’s that one cannot miss recognizing them at a distance; some are so unDown’s that one cannot tell they are Down’s at all.
I have seen many good looking, capable people with some Down’s characteristics.
Are the brains of Down’s Syndrome Children different from “normal” brains?
In some cases, yes-a little.
If you look at the brain of a deficient child in the operating room. Instead of seeing the nice, plump, spaghetti like convolutions that make up a well brain, you will see little, shrunken, hairpin like microgyria. Such a brain is of poor quantity and poor quality. In years past, it was believed that the brain of a Down’s was deficient, and therefore its function could not be improved or enhanced. This attitude has categorized, victimized, and ostracized Down’s children. It is not only a great sadness- it is insanity. On the contrary we see that with our therapies , these children start improving very fast.
Is it obvious which Down’s Children have abnormal chromosomal patterns?
Doctors say that these children’s problems are due to abnormal chromosomal patterns. We have chromosomal studies as proof.”
But the medical world also says, “About fifteen percent of these children do not have abnormal chromosomal patterns.”
Then we say, “Well, obviously that can’t be the cause, can it? If a person does not have these abnormal chromosomal patterns, then he shouldn’t be a Down’s Child, he shouldn’t have little folds under the eyes or any of these other symptoms that are considered uniquely Down’s Child. True?”
So the medical world cannot prove that they are Down’s Child by these chromosomal patterns?”
These children have been victims of such ridiculous circular arguments disguised as scientific studies.
Is Down’s Syndrome a product of heredity or environment?
I will agree that Down’s Syndrome is a congenital condition since it is most often evident at the time of birth. However, I will not agree that Down’s Syndrome is a genetic condition for there is no conclusive proof to that effect.
What is the major cause of Down’s Syndrome?
I believe the major cause is prenatal brain injury.
What area of the brain in injured?
I think the injury is in the midbrain and the cortex, though I am not sure.
The most important question is whether we can improve the children’s mental and physical conditions.
I do not have the slightest doubt that they can be helped, as I have seen their lives enhanced and their abilities improved. I have seen them become normal people.
Is Down’s Syndrome the result of a brain injury rather than abnormal chromosomes?
Yes, I think the abnormal chromosome count is due to the injury instead of the injury being a result of the chromosome count. The abnormal chromosomal patterns are the symptom not the cause.
What do you think of the new prenatal test?
This new test is called ammocentesis. To perform the test , the doctors puncture the wall of the uterus and remove a small amount of fluid, which contains cast off cells from the fetus. The cells are studied for chromosomal abnormalities. If the fetus is determined to be Down’s Child, such pregnancies can be terminated at the parents’ option. If this procedure becomes widely utilized, it has the potential of becoming the most efficient form of genocide. Many primitive tribes do away with children who are defective at birth. What is really the difference in killing these children before or after birth? Does it really become more moral? More humane? Or is it simply more legal?
What are the causes of brain injury?
We know of about a hundred different ways a child can become brain injured, but there may be thousands. Some of the most common causes of brain injury are:
Prenatal-incompatible Rh factors in mother and father: glandular disorders in mother; German measles contracted by mother during first three months of pregnancy: lack of oxygen.
Natal-over mature prenatal period: premature deliver; protracted labor (eighteen hours or more); delayed birth (perhaps due to mother’s late arrival at the hospital); induced labor: obstetrical difficulties.
Postnatal-childhood diseases such as whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, meningitis, scarlet fever, encephalitis glandular imbalance, a blow on the head, drowning and revival, high fever, cardiac or respiratory failure during simple surgery, environmental deprivation, metabolic imbalance and malnutrition.
How many brain-injured children are there?
Brain injured children are everywhere. In the United States alone there are estimated to be over 6 million, which is not a conservative figure at all. It is an outdated, inconclusive figure. There are millions and millions of brain injured children who are never labeled as brain injured.
Are the conditions of Down’s Children hopeless?
Some doctor tells a mother, “ Your baby will be like a two year old until he’s seven.”
Or , “He’II start having seizures when he’s five years old.”
Or He’II stop having seizures when he’s eight years old,”
Or, he can’t be expected to live past the age of twenty one.”
Or, If he lives to be twenty one, he will have to be put in an institution for the rest of his lie.”
I have not the slightest clue as to how people make such predictions. My opinion is that such predictions are complete nonsense, and I think they’re extremely dangerous to the well being of the child.
In the past, Down’s Children have been victimized by reasoning such as, “Down’s Children are mentally retarded: mental retardation is an incurable disease; therefore it is impossible to make Down’s Child well,” That line of reasoning makes me want to vomit.
I’ll say it again, if you treat a normal child as if he were stupid-don’t talk to him don’t take him out of the house don’t encourage him to play with toys, don’t let him play with other children and that normal child will no longer be normal.
Are most Down’s Children in worse condition than other brain-injured children?
In many ways, Down’s Children are often in much better physical and mental condition than many other brain injured children. Down’s Children are not so crippled as athetoids. Their actions are not as repetitive as are the autistic child’s. Their muscles are not rigid, and in most cases Down’s Children are very, very bright children.
Do all Down’s Children have vision problems?
I have seen some children who have vision problem that are not due to brain injury, but I have never seen a brain injured child who did not have a vision problem.
Evidently, human vision is one of the most delicate and intricate skills, requiring a fine balance between the physical and the mental conditions. It seems that a disability in vision is the first and most frequent result of brain injury.
Can the visual competence of Down’s Children be improved?
Yes, most people do not realize that vision is a developed skill, not a God given talent. Down’s Children often have a strabismus. The eyes do not move together. This is found in all babies at lower developmental levels. A good neurological program of therapy often improves this condition.
Can the visual competence of a Down’s Children become normal?
Yes, I have seen this many times.
Since most of the symptoms are present at birth, Is a Down’s Child’s condition easily diagnosed?
Should parents have guilt feelings about having given birth to a Down’s Child?
Why should they? What crime have they committed? As we get further away from the old genetic endowment theory and concern ourselves with the possibility of brain injury, then parents have less and less to feel guilty about- unless they smoke too much or eat poor food on purpose. Even then, I hope we are moving away from superstitions.
Parents who do not except their child’s disabilities are sometimes told that they are being unreasonable. But you say they are right not to give up hope. Is this really realistic?
I think idle dreams are fairy tales, but setting goals and disciplining oneself to achieve them is a completely realistic approach to solving a problem.
But what if that goal is not achieved?
Then it not achieved. That is also realistic. At least one can take pride in the fact that attempts to improve the child were made. I am convinced that no one in the entire world has ever been defeated until he decided that he was. I do not know why the world think defeat is realistic and that dreams of victory are unrealistic. That is a very negative attitude. I do not like it.
A mother recently said to me that her child’s pediatrician told her that she should adjust to her child’s condition and not expect him to get better.
I told her, “Forget that doctor; he does not believe in success. He believes only in failure. He does not believe in your child. Therefore, he is not worthy of the privilege of being your child’s doctor.”
Another mother said to me that her child’s pediatrician told her to join a woman’s club and to keep busy so she would not worry so much about her child.
I said to her, “You tell your doctor to join that club because it is your worry and your determination that provide your child with his only chance to get well.”
What is the greatest fear that parents of Down’s Children have?
All parents of brain injured children say the same thing to me—“What will happen to my child if I should die?” All mothers think of this. Only when parents make their children independent do they feel free to either live or die. Most people do not consider this, but mother of brain injured children know this to be true.
Should Down’s Children be raised in a “normal environment?”
Isn’t a Down’s Children child a human being? Is his conduct any different from that of a hyperactive child, an uncoordinated child, or an undisciplined child? Why should the face of a Down’s Child make us so uncomfortable? Are his actions so strange? Is he the only child who drools and holds his mouth open?
Is the Down’s Child the only one who does this?
Doesn’t an autistic child have strange behavioral habits? Are we going to create a separate world for the autistic child, or for the severely brain injured child? Must be create another for the Down’s Child?
Must we put them in cages? What crime did they commit?
Do they not deserve all of our consideration, our attention, and our loving care?
History provides us with a number of cases of children who were raised with animals.
In Italy we have to known cases of children of nine and eleven years who were found leaving with wolves. They were quadrapedal, living on decomposing food, and had the same characteristics and habits as the wild animals had. They were brought into civilization and one of them died a few days later. The other survived for two years, always in an inferior condition. The child never succeeded in adapting himself to his new surroundings.
In India we have a case that is part of the world’s medical literature. A child was found living among wild animals. Brought to civilization, he survived for two or three years, but he was always restive, frightened and aggressive, like all wild animals in captivity. One day he was taken to the zoological garden and placed in front of the wolves with whom he had been raised. For the first time, he became calm and reassured.
We must draw some conclusion from these cases. Of a normal individual is plunged into a wild environment and abandoned to his own devices before the full development of his nervous system, he will take from his environment of his nervous system, he will take from his environment his habits and his knowledge of life.
If this is so, how can we then create a special environment for Down’s Children, autistic children or brain injured children?
These children, whose nervous systems are not yet organized, who have neither understanding nor normal behavior, cannot live in an error-filled environment. In creating such institutions for these children, we will make the Down’s Child more injured child more brain injured. It is time that the world woke up to this problem.
Animals are born with what we call chemical memory, what many people call instincts. We aren’t. We are born with our nervous systems almost incomplete, immature and without this chemical memory that passes from generation to generation. New born birds already know how to build nests. Every species of bird makes a different kind of nest, though no school exists to teach the birds how to build their nests. Neither are there schools to teach spiders how to spin their webs. They have nothing to learn; it is instinct.
We do not have this instinct. We learn everything from our environment. The brain, will not, cannot, function if it does not receive instruction.
If we do not teach a child how to speak; he will never speak. If we do not teach a child to read and write, he will never read or write.
The child is the slave of his environment. His nervous system develops by use in an appropriate environment.
And if this is so, as we believe it to be, then it is unwise to separate the Down’s Child from other human beings unless we wish to make the Down’s Child an inferior creature.
What is a good neurological environment for Down’s Children?
An excellent neurological environment is one that provided the child with magnificent opportunities to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell all the things that regular children see, hear, feel, taste and smell.
A bad neurological environment is one that denies the child the opportunities to see, hear, feel, taste and smell all the things that regular children see, hear, feel, taste and smell.
A happy home, with loving parents who encourage the child to learn, is an example of an excellent neurological environment. Playpens, institutions and other cages are examples of poor neurological environments.
Don’t the programs of therapy you prescribe create an abnormal environment?
No. They create an accelerated normal environment. The child is not taken away from its mother and father. It is not removed from its home. We give it much sensory stimulation and much attention.
Why doesn’t the Down’s Child progress in a normal environment with normal stimulation.
Because he is injured. Like other brain injured children, he needs more- more seeing, more hearing, more feeling, more tasting, more smelling, more mobility-more everything.
Is there such a thing as normal?
I don’t want to play word games. When I say normal most people know pretty well what I mean. When a mother says to me that she prays that one day her child will be normal. I do not ask what she means by normal. I have more than a good idea of what she means.
Like all children, Down’s Children need normal opportunities. Normal opportunities offer chances for the child to learn about his environment, his home, everything that surrounds him, the usefulness of things at home, and the relations between these objects and the people of the house.
We must inform him about foods, daily activities, personal hygiene, and good habits. We should teach him to dress himself and to know the days of week and the names of the months.
We must show him the beauty of things. We must explain to him why birds and why sky is blue. We must fill his little hungry brain.
The mother of a normal child during the first week of his life already speaks with her child for many long hours and repeats. “Look at Mama, at Papa, at Auntie, at Grandpa. Look at your little brother who is playing.”
Why does she do this? This is conversation is necessary because this information will one day give the child ability to express himself and to reveal his thoughts.
The mother of a normal child must have enthusiasm. The mother of a Down’s Child must have the same enthusiasm, the same persistence as the mother of the normal child. And one day she will have the great joy of seeing her child respond to the information that he has received.
How much can environmental factor alter a child’s intelligence quotient?
There is a well known study of thirty eight pairs of identical twins. Separated in infancy, these twins were reared in different environments. The geneticists Irving I. Gateman and James Shields found that since the twins were presumed to be genetic equals, the environmental factor alone must have accounted for a spread of fourteen IQ points.
If it is indeed true that environmental factors can alter “genetic equals” fourteen IQ points (there are many who would maintain that environmental factors can alter IQ thirty and more points), then these classifications of mental retardation may not be static at all- they could well be musical chair categories where an individual could be shuffled into and out of a particular category depending on the medical, educational, and environmental help he has been given.
Surely it is possible to take a well child down through degrees of mental retardation in a matter of seconds with one precise blow to the head with a hammer. The question then arises, is it possible to bring a severely brain injured child up through the levels of classification? If the Gateman and Shields study accurately notes that environmental factors can make a difference of fourteen IQ points, then surely by that differential of fourteen points alone a child can be moved from one category into another.
Does an IQ score indicate the mental capacity of a Down’s Child?
An IQ score does not indicate anything except how well the child responded to the particular test or the particular tester. I hope that someday such tests are outlawed as insulting to intelligent human beings.
When should parents create accelerated environment for their children?
If possible, on the day they are born.
The early years of the Down’s Child’s life are his most important ones, for it is during these years that he is learning and developing faster than he ever will again.
Too often we see pictures of a Down’s Child sitting down, looking listless and dumb. It’s such a waste. If parents make a stimulating and exciting environment for their child, he/she no longer sits and looks listless. Instead, he becomes active and more eager to learn. I know, because I’ve seen this many times.
We often find that Down’s Children to not do so badly during their first years of life. In fact, their development is only slightly slower than normal babies. However, in later years, we see that Down’s Child’s development become slower and slower, and we see him become stranger and stranger. It is a fair and honest question to ask whether the Down’s Child would develop this way or whether he becomes slower and stranger because we not only allow him to but expect it of him?
I propose that it is the latter. Because we are told that Down’s Children are slower, stranger and dumber than average children, we begin to treat them as if they were slower and stranger and dumber, and soon they become what we have expected them to be.
What would the typical therapy program for a Down’s Child be?
Here we are into generalities again. I will give you an idea of what a beginning program would be like. We would probably have the child crawl for three hours each day and creep on his hands and knees for three hours. We would be patterned five times for five minutes at a time. We might start a brachiation program. There would be eye exercise and tactile and auditory exercises. And, of course, the parents would teach the child to read.
How soon would you expect to see improvements?
In about two months.
What improvements would you expect?
The discipline would be improved. The child’s eyes would be straighter. His muscle tone would be better.
How often do you re-evaluate the children on these programs?
About every two months in the beginning. Later, perhaps, we wee them at four or six months intervals. The scheduling of revisits depends on the child’s condition and his progress. The revisits are never scheduled because of financial reasons.
Do Down’s Children progress as well as do other types of brain-injured children?
They often make better progress than do other kinds of brain-injured children.
The typical group of brain-injured children develops at about one-third the normal rate.
However, the typical group of Down’s Children develops at about one-half the normal rate.
So on the average the Down’s Children are in better functional shape than other brain-injured children. Down’s Children are often at higher developmental levels when they begin our programs and they usually respond well to the stimulating therapy.
How old should a child be before he is placed on a program of therapy?
The earlier, the better.
We see fifteen-and sixteen-years-olds achieve nice success, but I see the best results in children who begin the program at two years, one year, and better still, one month.
The Down’s Child often has an advantage over other brain injured children because his condition can often be recognized and diagnosed at an earlier age, and therapy can be initiated mush sooner. So if you have to have a brain-injured child, in many ways, you are more fortunate if your child is a Down’s Child.
Do you alter the diets of the children on the program?
Yes. Since many medical authorities believe that the difficulty in a Down’s Child’s ability to speak and function may be affected by a build-up of fluids (cerebral edema), we have the parents limit the liquid intake of these children. We feel it is easier to avoid putting in too much liquid than it is to worry about taking it out.
We also emphasize a high protein diet.
What about vitamins?
We recommend Vitamin A and D supplements (oil base) and Vitamins B and E, which are vitally important for both the child and the family since they are all under a great deal of stress.
What can parents do about their child’s mouth being open all the time?
Function determines structure. I say we must get this child to be able to hold his mouth closed. The sooner the better.
Parents are often told that if they do not make an issue about their child’s open mouth, the child will not leave his mouth open so much. Such advice is nonsense. If the facial features of a Down’s Child are going to be altered, then we must emphasize that the mouth be closed. When the amount remains open, the nasal areas will not develop properly, and the child’s face becomes stranger with each year instead of better. Remember that function determines structure. Once we get these children to close their mouths and breathe through their noses, then their features change because we have altered the function of their facial anatomy.
This is not always as difficult as it seems. Some parents have only to say very nicely, “Sweetheart, close your mouth”. For others this is not enough. Some parents have to be quite stern and touch the child’s face when they remind him. And sometimes parents have to smack the child’s lips, because some children require more intensity of stimulation than do other. With some children, parents use a variety of emphasis—sometimes only a gentle reminder suffices, other times a smack must be administered. In some cases parents have to tape their child’s mouth closed for periods of time. Although this may sound barbaric, I can assure you that taping a child’s mouth closed during periods of the day is more humane than allowing him to live his life as a Down’s Child, scowled at by the world and considered to be hopelessly retarded.
Are mothers of brain-injured children different from other mothers?
At the beginning, no. But later they often change.
How do they change?
I think most often they become stronger. If they do not give up their child, they have to be stronger—especially in the past, when they were so often told to institutionalize their children because there was no hope.
The mother of a brain-injured child begins no differently than does the mother of a well child. She expects her child to develop and grow. But the day her child is diagnosed as brain-injured, or labeled as being “mentally retarded.” Cerebral palsied,” or “Down’s Child,” she is often told that she must forsake her expectations. If she agrees to forsake her dreams, she is allowed to remain within the group called “reasonable mothers.”If this mother, however, refuses to forsake her dreams and insists that she will find a way to make her child better, then she begins to meet raised eyebrows and turned shoulders. In the eyes of the professional world, she has become an unreasonable mother. If her husband stands with her in this decision, then he, too, is considered unreasonable.
Are fathers important in these programs of therapy?
I speak so much about mothers because they are usually the ones who are more immediately involved with their children. I do not mean to imply that during the time the father is free to watch television or walk down to the corner bar.
The family unit is very important in this program. It may be considered old fashioned, but I think it’s a very old truth that a husband and wife should function as one person. The left side may be different from the right, but together they function as one. I do not believe it is possible for one parent to carry out this program alone. Both parents are needed.
Why do you insist that the parents to these programs with their children?
I do not insist that parents do these programs. I think everyone should make his or her own decision. In fact, I tell parents “This is a very difficult program. It will take up most of the hours of your days. Think it over for a long time before you decide.”
If the child is placed on one of your programs, don’t you insist that the parents are involved?
I demand that they are, because parents are the best therapists for their kids. I do not only believe this. I know it.
It is terribly important for the family to treat the child. Sometimes wealthy parents don’t understand this. They offer to write a fantastic sum on a check and want me to take their child and make him well. I tell them. “I do not need your money, and I am not responsible to make your child well. This child is a part of your family. I did not make him a Down’s Child. I did not make you wealthy. The only children I am personally responsible to make well are my son and my daughter. If you want to make your child well, I will teach you everything. I know. But I will not allow you to leave your child here. It would not be fair for your child to work so hard while you go to parties and have drinks with friends. And it would not be fair for you to miss witnessing what courage there is in your child. You do not insult me by offering me money—it is your child you insult.”
Aren’t these programs very difficult to do?
Not in the sense of being complicated. Each part of the program is relatively simple to do, so almost anyone can learn how. What makes the program so difficult is the amount of time and energy required of the parents. Some people say that these programs are too demanding of the parents. I agree. They are impossible programs. I believe with all my heart that no one other than parents could do them.
Why can’t these programs be moderated?
The day that a Down’s Child’s problems can be moderated, his program can be moderated. Is there anyone who believes that Down’s Children have only a thirty minute problem or a five day a week problem? Down’s Children have twenty four hours a day, seven-days a week, twelve-months a year problem. Parents know this. That’s why they are willing to take on such a Herculean task.
Aren’t these programs also very demanding of the Child?
Are the programs sometimes too demanding of a Down’s Child?
Being a Down’s Child is too demanding of these children. It is very difficult to be a Down’s Child, and often very boring. We do not start a beginning program at full steam. We begin at the child’s level of development and as he improves and grows stronger we increase the intensity of the program.
Aren’t there medical problems that can keep a child from beginning one of these programs?
Usually the child’s medical problems are the reasons he should be on the program.
Sometimes a doctor will say. “This child has a weak heart and must not do the program.” or “This child has a kidney problem,” or, “This child does not have strong muscles.” or “This child’s energies must not be taxed in any way because he is so delicate.”
Let me tell you sometimes. If even today, as a grown man. I suddenly stopped functioning as a human being-moving from one place to another and from one interest to another – and became very lazy and sat around all the time and did not tax my energies in any way. It would be only a short time before I would become delicate and would have heart problems, kidney problems, and weak muscles. We must remember that function determines structure. These children’s muscles will not become stronger unless they use these muscles, and these children’s hearts will not become stronger unless they exercise their hearts.
Let me tell you a secret, a secret I cannot explain, I have seen people on crawling and creeping programs who began with very weak hearts or kidney problems or had cataracts on their eyes, and after being on the program for some time, they had healthy hearts, strong kidneys, and I have even seen cataracts disappear. I do not know how to explain this. Perhaps these are miracles. For twenty five years I was an ophthalmological surgeon, and I seen before made cataracts disappear without surgery. But I have seen them disappear after the patient has been on a crawling and creeping program.
I see these things, but I cannot explain them other than with the fact that function determines structure.
With such demanding schedules, don’t some parents become exhausted?
Sometimes, when their children are on the program, parents work hard every day and find little rest, so every three or four months, I tell parents to leave their child with friends and take a few days vacation.
Sometimes the parents say. “May be our friends would object.”
I answer, “Then they are not your friends. If they were your friends, they would not see taking your child for a few days as a hardship but as an opportunity. What a nice compliment to give them, for you are saying, “You are nice, bright people, the kind of people I want my child to now. “ Now isn’t that the nicest compliment you can give to anyone?”
What if there are other children in the family?
That’s good. These kids can learn so much from brothers and sisters.
But what about the brothers and sisters?
It’s good for them, too. They can learn so much from Down’s Children.
What should you tell the other children about this child?
If there are other children in the family, don’t build great barriers in their minds about their Down’s Child brother or sister. Do not emphasize, in any way, that he or she is abnormal. Instead, emphasize the positive aspects. For instance, tell your other children that their brother’s brain is injured and he needs the help of the family, He needs much information and much work. But don’t fill their minds with black thought.
If your child had a broken leg or a broken arm, you wouldn’t condition your other children to treat him as if he were going to be a cripple for the rest of his life. You would view his condition as temporary. So if your child has Down’s Syndrome, and you view your Down’s Child as if he will be a Down’s Child forever, then chances are that is exactly what he will always be.
What one thing do Down’s Children need most?
I cannot believe how some Down’s Children are allowed to behave. Sometimes a mother brings her child to my clinic and within minutes the walls are shaking from the noise coming from this child’s mouth. The child misbehaves, and the mother sits with a sad smile on her face and says, “What can I do? He doesn’t know better.”
I tell this mother, “Go home and teach him better and don’t come back until you do. I see pets that are better trained.”
It is crazy to think that a lack of discipline shows that we love these children, Normal children must lean discipline. Why would anyone ever think that hurt children should not be restrained or taught how human beings are expected to behave?
How should parents discipline a Down’s Child?
With the same expectations and the same amount of reason that one would use to discipline a regular child. You must be consistent. You must be firm. You must be reason able. And you must be loving, loving, loving.
When Down’s Child are hyperactive, do you prescribe tranquilizers?
When I hear mention of giving children drugs, I should take a tranquilizer. This subject makes me want to scream.
Drugs are not only a thriving business for the underworld; the drug business thrives in the offices of professional people. I see hundreds of brain injured kids each year who are addicted to drugs. I refuse to call such prescriptions medication because I have never seen children made better by them. These drugs do not change the brain condition- they only hide the problem.
Giving these drugs to children who have brain dysfunction is like treating a broken arm by injured limb in a paper bag.
Three things happen to a child who takes drugs:
- He often becomes more tranquil and easier to manage. He also becomes dull and listless, and in most cases this child, who already has a learning problem, finds it even more difficult to learn.
- The brain injured child’s condition does not get better-it becomes worse because every day he falling further behind normal kids.
- The brain injured child becomes more expensive because now his parents are paying not only for his “habit.” They’re paying in time lost with their child.
When parents bring a brain injured child to my Institutes and I find that he is on a tranquilizing drug. I tell them that they must take him off the prescribed dosage.
Sometimes a mother will say to me, “Dr. so and so will be very upset.”
I tell her, “I don’t care if Dr. So and so is very upset. I care only about your child.”
Then I ask her why she brings her child to my Institutes.
And she tells me, “Because Dr. So and so said his condition was hopeless?”
And I ask, “Does Dr. So and so always prescribe drugs for his hopeless cases?”
You see, the answer is simple. It is not that I’m so bright, it is that the procedures are often so stupid.
I sometimes tell mothers to go home and take the little pills themselves, I know that will happen. A few days later these mothers call me or come in and say, I can’t take those pills. They make me tired and dizzy. I can’t get my work done during the day. Sometimes I don’t even know where I am.”
I tell these mothers, “Now you know what these pills are doing to your child.”
After that we begin to decrease the dosage and in time the child becomes unhooked.
What about drugs prescribed to prevent seizures?
I’m often told that these drugs are supposed to eliminate seizures, but I don’t believe it. I think the drugs only reduce the overt responses to seizures. I believe the child still suffer seizures, but under the influence of drugs they are not so obvious.
The medical world knows very little about seizures. In 1968 a world wide medical congress composed of leading neurologists and neurosurgeons from fifty six nations convened in New York City to discuss the prevention and treatment of seizures. After three days of discussions, the only point they agreed upon was that they knew very little about seizures. They are not sure what seizures are or why seizures occur. They suppose that seizures are bad, but they cannot prove this.
I have heard that kids die of seizures, but I have never seen this. And every time I hear another doctor tell me how dangerous seizures are, I ask. “ How many people have you seen die from one? He always gets a blank look on his face and soon discovers he cannot remember seeing such a thing, either.
I think seizures do not do as much harm as we are led to believe. I think there is a strong possibility that seizures can be beneficial to the brain injured person. I have often seen much improvement in a child’s condition immediately following a seizure.
Now, if I’m asked if I want my patients to have seizures. I will promptly answer no, because they are frightening things to watch and I am not sure what is going on inside the child. Nevertheless, I would rather take the chance of the seizure than have him so doped up he doesn’t know his head from his elbow.
Should parents of Down’s Child take their children out of the house more often?
Sometimes parents keep their Down’s Child at home and avoid taking him along when visiting friends. This is a big mistake. How is your Down’s Child going to know that other people are like if he doesn’t have the opportunity to meet them and be with them? Don’t talk, talk, talk about his condition. The only important condition he has is that he is a child.
So, don’t talk about his being a Down’s Child. Instead talk about his being your child.
What should parents do if friends don’t understand the problems of their child?
Some mothers say to me, “When I take my child into other people’s home, I sometimes find myself apologizing for his appearance or his actions.”
I Say to them, “Why don’t you take him to the houses of your friends and leave other people alone? Surely you don’t have to apologize to your friends. If your child had red hair, would you have to apologize? And if your child misbehaves momentarily, you don’t need to apologize to friends. Just say, ‘Boys will be boys.’ I assure you, normal boys get into more mischief than do normal Down’s Children.”
Do you realize that most people do not think a Down’s Child can become normal.
Of course I do. Thirty-five years ago, short of a God-sent miracle, a brain-injured child getting well was considered impossibility. The majority today still believes this and says it’s impossible. We know, today, that the majority is wrong. If the world says it’s impossible for brain injured children to get well and only one child gets well, then the world is proved wrong. From that point on such negative statements are either mistakes or lies.
Do you think Down’s Children should marry?
I think Down’s Children should become normal and do all the things that normal people do.
Many times when I say that I expect my Down’s Children to become normal. I see people smile and say, “How nice. What he really means is that he wants them to become better, or he wants them to be able to do more of the things that normal people can do, but he doesn’t really mean he wants them to do everything that normal people do.”
For instance, if I say that I want my Down’s Children to grow up and work in factories, everyone says, “Isn’t that marvelous” I do not understand this reaction. How is it “marvelous” to improve children’s abilities to allow them to become a cog in an assembly line?
I say to them that when I say normal, I mean normal. And they say, “We understand. You mean as normal as possible, but you certainly don’t mean for them to marry and have well, sex.”
I say, “You fools! Of course I mean that they should marry and have sex. Why shouldn’t they? Isn’t sex normal? How can we expect these children to grow to be normal if we don’t expect them to have normal futures? And certainly sex is a part of normality. Sex is like breathing. It is biological a necessary bodily function. It is as much a part of the everyday as going to the bathroom. To ask if I think that Down’s Children should have sex is like asking me if I think they should be allowed to go to the bathroom.”
We see these children placed in cages called institutions-boys in one building and girls in another-and the administrators predict that it is impossible for these children to become normal human beings. Under such circumstances, wouldn’t it be surprising if any of them did become normal? In fact, if we placed a normal child in such conditions, could we expect that he would, in later years, be a normal person?
If we taught normal children that sex was abnormal and if we guarded them during all of their lives and did not allow them to marry, we certainly would not expect that they would ever be normal adults.
It is the same with Down’s Children. Down’s Children are people, with a necessary biological drive that must he fulfilled. Therefore, sex should not only be an expectation in the Down’s Child’s life, it should be a reality.