by KENNETH BROWN.
A CALL for the payment of a special children's allowance to mothers of handicapped children, and particularly to those who have no day care facilities and who keep their children at home instead of sending them to residential institutions when they are older, is made in a book published yesterday. Sheila Hewett, in "The Family and the Handicapped Child" (George Allen and Unwin, 55s.), says: "These parents made their contribution to society through rates and taxes but they get a poor return when their children do not go to school or to a day centre.
"These same children cannot use the parks, the libraries and the swimming baths. An allowance would be a small token of society's recognition that mothers are doing a very difficult job that would cost a good deal if it had to be taken over by the State." The book, by Mrs. Hewett with John and Elizabeth Newson, was commissioned by the Spastics Society. It is a research study of spastic children in their own homes, and gives personal accounts of the experiences of mothers.
They tell in their own words how they meet the tensions, problems and anxieties of caring for a handicapped child and how they strive to maintain a happy family life under stress. It is the first study to present evidence from parents rather than professional workers in the field.
Mrs. Hewett visited the mothers of 180 spastic children in the East Midlands area to obtain her material. The book was designed to discover the practical problems facing mothers bringing up handicapped children at home; to find out how the services designed to help them work in practice. and to give an objective comparison between the family lives of normal children and handicapped children. The comparison was achieved by using material obtained from Nottingham mothers in the well-known surveys by Dr. John and Dr. Elizabeth Newson of rthe Child Development Research Unit in Nottingham. The result is a balanced and unemotional insight into the lives of people whose problems call for nation-wide acceptance, compassion and support.
Mrs. Hewett provides information which is of invaluable help to the professionals who work with handicapped children and their families. The failings and successes of the services available are frankly commented upon by the mothers, and they also speak freely about the attitude of doctors, hospitals, their relatives and the public.