A descriptive study of selected physical, developmental and test score data on a group of minimally brain-injured children



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The purpose of this study was to determine the physical and mental characteristics common to those children who have been diagnosed as having minimal cerebral dysfunction, or who are more commonly referred to as minimally brain-injured. This term is restricted to those children who are near average, average or above average in intelligence and who evidence learning disabilities which are associated with deficiencies of function in the central nervous system. It does not include the multiple-handicapped child, i.e., the child with cerebral dysfunction who is also blind, deaf and/or orthopedically handicapped. Diagnosis of minimally brain-injured children is often complicated by the emotional overlay prominent in such cases as well as the lack of obvious physical signs of neurological involvement. The task becomes one of detecting disturbances in integrative capacity, often the only clue to organicity. The sample group for the study was composed of sixty elementary age children from a large metropolitan school district. These children had been diagnosed as minimally brain-injured on the basis of medical evidence, school history and learning disabilities as revealed by the Wechsler or Binet test protocol. The children had been placed or were awaiting placenent in classes for the minimally brain-injured. The variables included in this study were grouped as; 1) physical factors, including pre-, para-, and postnatal history, 2) developmental, including behavior characteristics and 3) test data. The pertinent details related to 1 and 2 were secured through examination of parent interview forms and medical evaluations submitted by doctors. The test data were secured from Wechsler and Binet protocols administered by qualified psychologists. Thirty Stanford-Binet protocols were appraised in terms of mental age, basal age and the level at which ceiling was established. Five subtests were selected as representative measures of abilities found lacking or confused in the brain-injured children. These were; Patience at Year V, Humber Concepts and mazes at Year VI, and Diamond and Digits at Year VII. All scaled scores of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children were included as variables, with the exception of Digit Span which was not administered in the majority of cases. The Verbal, Performance and Full Scale scores were also included as separate variables. The analysis of the data of this study seems to justify the following conclusions: There is a greater percentage of males evidencing minimal cerebral dysfunction, seventy-five percent male as compared with twenty-five percent female. Of all physical factors, birth trauma was reported most frequently. Sixty-two percent of the children were first or second born, with more (thirty-seven percent) in the second born classification. In analysis of physical characteristics, the brain-injured child was more often poor in fine coordination than in the gross. Language problems were reported in approximately half the group. Late developmental milestones were not characteristic of this sample. Strauss syndrome characteristics were reported in eighty-eight percent of the cases. Test data indicate difficulty was encountered with measures of perceptual-motor skills, auditory memory and attention span. Long test scatter was not evident on the Binet; however, intertest variability on the Weschler was characteristic of the sample.



Children with mental disabilities--Psychological testing