How social myths about childhood, motherhood and medicine affect the detection of subtle developmental problems in young children

Williams, Jane (2007) How social myths about childhood, motherhood and medicine affect the detection of subtle developmental problems in young children. Contemporary Nurse, 23 (2). pp. 274-287.

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Focus by child health professionals on the well-being of young Australian children and their families has intensified in the past decade, with particular attention drawn to the importance of the early detection and intervention of developmental problems. While many children with developmental difficulties are detected in the preschool years, those with more subtle forms of developmental problems are often only noticed by their mothers, passing unnoticed by professionals until the children begin school and fail socially or academically. This study aimed to ascertain ways in which child health professionals may utilise the experience of mothers to improve early recognition and diagnosis of subtle developmental and behavioural problems in children. French philosopher, Roland Barthes (1973) proposed that myths play an important social role in defining underlying social values that affect how people interpret what others say or do. This paper explores how the social myths of childhood, motherhood and medicine impact upon the early detection of children with subtle developmental problems. In particular, it examines how social myths affect when and how mothers become concerned about their children's development, from whom they seek advice, and the responses which mothers receive in regard to their concerns. Mythical notions of the 'blameless child', 'boys will be boys' and 'children who look OK are OK', and the constituted myth of motherhood, are all shown to qjfect when mothers become concerned about their children's development. What mothers do about their concerns and the responses they receive from child health professionals are also influenced by these myths. The myth of medicine is also examined to determine how it affects communication between mothers and doctors, the roles and responsibilities of doctors, and the value placed on a mother's concerns by doctors.

Item ID: 2580
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1037-6178
Keywords: Early Childhood; developmental problems; early detection; child health; mothers; myths
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2009 01:30
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111707 Family Care @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 100%
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