Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 199–214 | Cite as

Psychological disturbance in children with physical disabilities: Continuity and change in a 5-year follow-up

  • Naomi Breslau
  • Iris A. Marshall


This study measures continuity in behavioral disturbance over a 5-year period among 255 children with physical disabilities who were 6 to 18 years old at first assessment. The pattern of the results differed from that reported previously for a sample of the general population of children. Disabled children showed little stability in aggression, an area in which stability over time had been consistently reported for the general child population. Furthermore, important differences were observed between children with cystic fibrosis and children with cerebral palsy, myelodysplasia, or multiple physical handicaps, all conditions involving brain abnormality. Children with cystic fibrosis followed the trend toward better adjustment seen among the general population of children. In contrast, among children with conditions involving the brain, the majority of those who had been classified as psychologically severely impaired remained at this level of impairment 5 years later. In two behavioral domains, Mentation Problems and Isolation, children with conditions involving the brain maintained, on the average, the same markedly high score they had initially. Among children with physical conditions involving the brain, Mentation Problems and Isolation signify persistent problems that do not subside as the children mature.


General Population Physical Condition Cystic Fibrosis Cerebral Palsy Physical Disability 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Breslau
    • 1
  • Iris A. Marshall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Foundation Psychiatry, School of MedicineCase Western Reserve UniversityCleveland

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