Pathways to maturity: insights from a thirty-year study of deprived children

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University of Toronto Press, 1996 - Psychology - 154 pages
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In the world of child development, the conventional wisdom was that children severely deprived in their earliest years do not regain the losses suffered, no matter what their later upbringing. Pathways to Maturity presents a model for psychological rehabilitation of deprived institutionalized children which not only explodes the myth but shows how significant rehabilitation can be accomplished and offers intriguing insights into the complexities of human development.

The first stage of this study describes the serious developmental and mental health deficits of a group of 85 infants being reared in an institution in Toronto in 1956. The children had no close relationships, no toys, or possessions, and no interaction with the other children, and spent most of their waking hours in bed, seldom outside their nursery and never outdoors. Speech was non-existent and vocalization infrequent. They had few motor skills, grossly retarded intellectual development, and an inability to relate to adults or peers, which precluded successful placement in foster or adoptive homes.

In the second stage, involving 28 of these children, aged three months to three years, rehabilitative treatment was undertaken to prepare the children for placement. The authors outline intervention strategies and therapeutic techniques used and discuss the ongoing adaptation of the children to home, school, and community, under the guidance of a case worker, until they reached the ages of 15 to 18 years.

In the third stage of the study, 22 of the original 28 were located and interviewed regarding their lifestyles, coping strategies and mental health as young adults, then aged 28 through 31 years. While the individuals involved showed many different ways of maturing, their histories consistently demonstrated the value of professional support in helping deprived children to overcome adversity. In effect, Pathways to Maturity is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

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Telling the Story
Security and Mental Health
A Key to Therapeutic Intervention

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