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Article
March 1956

THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF EARLY INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF MENTALLY SUBNORMAL CHILDREN

Author Affiliations

Waverley, Mass.
Superintendent, Walter E. Fernald State School; instructor in Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1956;91(3):278-281. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1956.02060020280009
Abstract

IN RECENT years there has been a growing tendency among members of professional groups to advise and even urge early institutionalization of mentally subnormal children, especially the Mongoloids. The resultant pressure brought to bear on institutions for the mentally subnormal has forced those facilities to accept and provide for infants, many only a few days old. It is the purpose of this paper to point out that such advice may not only be ill advised but may even be harmful to both the parents and the child.

Every administrator of such an institution has had the experience of interviewing a distraught and frantic father whose wife has just given birth to a Mongoloid child. Too often he has been urged by the attending physician to take immediate steps toward institutionalization. He has been warned, for example, that should the child be taken home, the normal strong attachment between mother and

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