Paula Hellal
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Marjorie Lorch
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Victorian medical awareness of childhood language disabilities
in Disability and the Victorians
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This chapter shows how the Victorian era can be credited with ushering in reforms in childhood developmental disorders, including but not limited to problems with language acquisition. These early steps in recognising age as a factor of clinical importance were responsible, in large part, for eventual legislation in Great Britain, Europe and the United States that provided equitable treatment of children and adults alike. The authors explore Victorian attitudes to childhood disability by focusing on how physicians attempted to describe and explain these newly identified developmental disorders of language. Focusing primarily on childhood aphasia, they highlight the haphazard ways in which the medical profession made breakthroughs to give greater understanding of the condition. This required abandonment of early ideas, which had often been without empirical foundation, in order to embrace fresh perspectives and understanding, notably about the long-held and dubious linkage made between deafness and ‘dumbness’.

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Disability and the Victorians

Attitudes, interventions, legacies


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