John Apley CARE OF THE HANDICAPPED CHILD London: Spastics International Medical Publications with William Heinemann Medical Books: 1978, 145 pp., $22.
The red carnation ever-present in his left lapel, the gentle but forceful opinion on a wide variety of topics, the unrelenting advocacy of developmental needs for all children - these were his landmarks. His legacy is a broader and deeper appreciation of child development on both sides of the Atlantic. And the name which matches these attributes is, of course, Ronnie MacKeith. Many were touched by his "advocacy" of the handicapped child long before the term was in common use. Professionals from all disciplines have been greatly stimulated and guided by his approaches to the varied problems encountered in the emerging field of child development.
A debt of gratitude from cherished colleagues took the form of this volume of essays and papers, which bears the subtitle A Festschrift for Ronald MacKeith. What was to have been a living remembrance unfortunately became a memorial to his memory at his untimely passing.
The work consists of 16 contributions by specialists in fields related to child development. Initial papers by Apley and Rousseau provide an insight into Dr. MacKeith's background and personality. They are among the most readable of the work. Subsequent chapters range over many aspects of the field. Some are simply short philosophical or critical pieces, such as the review by Abercrombie on the value of small group discussion in teaching professionals, Pless on attitudes of professionals toward the handicapped, Loring on the need for more integrative programs, and Ounsted dealing with dynamics of the developmental process.
More substantial fare is offered by Corbett reviewing mental-retardation services on a broad international scale up to the present. Similarly effective are chapters dealing with clinical approaches to caring for the handicapped child at home, and with parental counseling. A section on developmental assessment guidelines is restricted to practice in the United Kingdom and provides a description of local and regional assessment centers only, which will have limited interest to most readers in this country.
An excellent discussion by Guthkelch outlines the place of surgical intervention in myelodysplasia and hydrocephalus. Unfortunately, too much credibility is given to potential benefits of cerebellar implants for cerebral palsy without substantiation by supporting data. Scrutton provides a very good guide to postural management of the severely mentally retarded in order to prevent fixed and structural deformity.
The paper by Hagberg contains supportive data and places in some perspective the trends in epidemiology of cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and seizure disorders in Sweden. This is perhaps the most substantial contribution of the work. Finally there is an extensive review by Tizard of research needs in the entire area, including medical, social and educational areas.
This festschrift for Dr. MacKeith is an uneven volume from which one must carefully pick and choose what is most appetizing. It will not be totally palatable to all who deal with this field; much less so to the general pediatrician. Nevertheless, it is a timely work, which offers a transAtlantic perspective and should be considered useful to professionals who have a major interest in the handicapped child.