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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr ARMITAGE - I do not propose to speak for much longer but there are still one or two points 1 want to mention. I think consideration should be given by all parties concerned with handicapped children to the proposal that children should be placed in schools far earlier than they are now. They should go to school when they attain 4 years of age. Much of the damage is done to these children because they do not go to special schools early enough and naturally their parents lend to spoil them. I heard of a child who could not feed himself even though he was 6 years of age. He was sent to 3 school and the teachers simply refused to feed him. In no time he had learned to feed himself. That child's treatment would have been so much better if he had received assistance at an earlier age. The point is that it is not only a question of reaching the child but teaching the parent as well.

For the reasons I have given I support the proposal that there should be a special committee of inquiry into the problem of handicapped children, as proposed in the amendment moved bv the Opposition. I think that committee of inquiry should investigate al) aspects to ascertain how many such children there, are. what types there are and what types of handicap exist, ft should determine and establish lines of research into causes, treatment and teaching methods, ft should ascertain the best way to assist governments and organisations looking after these children. Until this problem is tackled in this way the Parliament will not be dealing with it effectively and efficiently.

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