By E. Anderson

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The adolescent years are critical in this respect, since role transitions are precipitated by the individual’s growing independence from authority figures, by involvement with his peer group, and because of new sensitivities to the evaluation of others, as well as the acquisition of new roles. Sometimes the role itself does not change but the expectations of others do, for example, parents of a handicapped teenager may expect more of him as he grows older in regard to physical independence. The acquisition of new roles is often a painful and difficult process, and the question of self-image is likely to arise, that is what kind of person the youngster sees himself as now, or as becoming.

Very few cerebral-palsied young people suffered from incontinence, although about 10 per cent needed help with toileting because of locomotor difficulties or poor hand control. Epilepsy, while affecting a few spina bifida teenagers, was more common among the cerebral-palsied, about 20 per cent of whom suffered from this. Deafness was a problem for about 10 per cent of the cerebral-palsied, but wasn’t found at all among the spina bifida teenagers. Visual defects of a less severe kind were common in both groups, about 40 per cent wore glasses, and squinting was found in one-quarter of the cerebral-palsied group and half of the spina bifida teenagers.

Although Patrick’s family life has been rather unsettled, he has not been too disturbed by this and is a cheerful, independent and mature boy and a keen student. His stepmother described him as having an ‘amazing character’ because of his determination, willpower and resilience. Patrick is very close to his brother and they spend a great deal of time together when he is at home. Although Patrick does not have any friends of his own at home, he goes out with his brother and his friends. Since leaving school Patrick has suffered a setback in health due to a bad pressure sore on his buttock.

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