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Title: Towards an understanding of profound mental handicap
Author: Latchford, Gary J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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A brief introduction to the profoundly mentally handicapped (PMH) is given. Problems with the definition of profound mental handicap are identified, and a new definition, based upon behavioural characteristics, is proposed. A comprehensive survey of research literature relevant to the PMH is presented, and it's inadequacies and biases discussed. The lack of a framework within which to place the behaviour of the PMH is also discussed, and a modified developmental one suggested. An argument is made for the usefulness of conducting research which is informed by mother-infant studies and which examines the behaviour of the PMH, paying particular attention to communicative and emotional characteristics. The behaviour of a representative sample of 66 PMH subjects, living at home or in one of three institutions, is investigated using micro-analysis of filmed sessions between carer and subject, and information gathered from two oral questionnaires administered to carers. A reliable profile of the behavioural characteristics of this sample of the PMH is therefore obtained. Important findings include: a high level of awareness and engagement to the carer indicating a general responsiveness amongst the PMH to aspects of the environment, and the ability to communicate with other people; evidence of a wide variety of social and emotional behaviours, in particular a discriminating sense of humour; evidence of spontaneous learning; and the presence of a 'responsiveness' factor underlying the behaviour of the PMH, and dividing the subjects into distinct subgroups. The implications of these findings for the day-to-day care of the PMH, and for an improved understanding of the nature of profound mental handicap are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available