Edited by Peter Mittler and Helle Mittler.
Lisieux Hall Publications
ISBN 1 870335 15 5
This book was inspired by last year’s Inter national Year of the
Family, which the editors believed was an opportunity to re-examine
the needs of families who have a relative with a learning
It concentrates largely on services in the United Kingdom since
But the book also contains interesting references to the
innovation of services in some other parts of the world.
It talks, for example, of the training packages being developed
in Uganda, Malawi and Sri Lanka, to help parents of children under
six who have developmental handicaps; the Young Muslim Women’s
Association in Jordan, founded 20 years ago, promoting a positive
image of people with learning disabilities; and the Market Place
Support Group on the Ivory Coast, where mothers meet in the street
to share ideas and offer each other support.
Most of the contributors have worked for many years in services
in the UK. Their chapters are a comprehensive reminder of the
arguments and campaigns that began in the 1960sas parents and
professionals started working together to get better services.
One chapter is called ‘Telling parents their child has a
It is depressing to think that, 30 years on, it is still
necessary to give advice such as: ‘Following the disclosure,
parents should be given a private room to be with one another’ and
‘parents should be told with their partner/ spouse or a friend or
The editors and contributors are renowned for their part in
developing services for people with learning difficulties in the
UK, but their book is curiously disappointing in terms of its
style, which comes across as rather turgid.
There are far too many lists and sub-headings; nearly every
chapter has its list of guidelines, good practices, and academic
references. Inev itably, the book suffers and in some places it
becomes so tedious that one really needs to work at it in order to
dig out its good points.
However, it will serve as a very sound reference book for
professionals who have an interest in the development of services
in the second half of the 20th century for parents of people who
have learning difficulties.
Maureen Oswin is a writer whose last book was Am I
Allowed to Cry?