Friday, April 29, 2011
Hope for Treating Intellectual Disabilities
Slouched sideways at his desk in the front row of class, a sneakered foot jittering distractedly, Chase Brown could be any 14-year-old in academic captivity.
As the discussion turns to the American history of slavery, the teacher draws Chase back from his apparent reverie. A classmate has said that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Does Chase agree or disagree?
Chase locks eyes with his teacher. "I agree," he says emphatically.
It is a moment of triumph for Chase, one of an estimated 90,000 in the U.S. who live with an inherited form of intellectual disability known as fragile X syndrome. Only a year ago, he would have fled the classroom, thrown something at the teacher or stayed mute. Last year, he tested below first-grade level in all academic domains.
Impulsive, distracted and quick to boil over, he seemed incapable of learning.