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April 5, 1958


Author Affiliations

Rockford, Ill.

JAMA. 1958;166(14):1708-1710. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990140042008

The statistics of a public school system showed that 5% of the children failed in a given year. In some instances no reason could be found for the difficulty, but in general there was a preponderance of birth injuries or severe postnatal infectious disorders, such as encephalitis, or severe cerebral episodes connected with the acute exanthemas or postnatal trauma. Pediatric and psychiatric examination revealed a fairly common picture of hyperactivity, excessive pressure of speech, insecurity and anxiety, immaturity of reaction, and fright in the examining situation. Electroencephalographic and neurological evidence of brain damage was found in a large percentage of 181 children so examined. After thorough individual evaluations, a systematic study was made of the effects of treatment, which consisted of psychotherapy for both child and parents, specific speech and reading therapy, and the use of certain drugs. Rauwolfia, reserpine, certain anticonvulsants, and a placebo were used in four groups of 69, 102, 44, and 31 children respectively. The best results, under the conditions of the experiment, were obtained with Rauwolfia, which gave improvement in 63 (91 %) of the 69 children, but it is emphasized that the drug therapy alone was not responsible for the total improvement. Many children who now fail constantly in school can be saved for society if coordination can be achieved by interested parties in the community. The private physician should become a leader in undertakings of this kind.