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July 1961

Helping the Parents of a Retarded Child: The Role of the Physician

Author Affiliations

J. Cotter Hirschberger, M.D., Children's Service, The Menninger Clinic, Topeka, Kan.; Children's Service of the Menninger Clinic. Senior Child Psychiatrist (Dr. Bryant); Senior Child Psychiatrist and Training Director in Child Psychiatry (Dr. Hirschberg).

Am J Dis Child. 1961;102(1):52-66. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1961.02080010054010

The physician who will take the time to listen, to understand, to support, and to counsel parents of the retarded child will do them a great service, but many parents of retarded children who have taken their child to their family doctor are not satisfied with the help they receive.1 For this reason we decided to examine the parents' dissatisfactions for clues about how the physician might increase his usefulness to such families.

Part of the parents' dissatisfaction about the help they had received represented their own difficulties and distortions, springing from their intense feelings about their child's problems.2 Nonetheless, the complaints in part often seemed to be justified.3 In a surprising number of instances, the physician had treated the parents in ways which seemed to reflect his own uncertainty about his role. These parents described with hurt and anger the doctor's seeming misunderstanding of them and

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