YOUR DOWN'S SYNDROME CHILD, EVERYTHING TODAY'S PARENTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAISING THEIR SPECIAL CHILD, by Eunice McClurg (Doubleday: $15.95; 273 pp.). There's probably no news more devastating for parents to hear than, "Your child has Down's syndrome." But, reading a book like Eunice McClurg's "Your Down's Syndrome Child" can help to mitigate the pain. McClurg, a former executive director of ARC (Assn. for Retarded Citizens), has written a constructive, comprehensive and compassionate book assuring parents that they can rear their child at home.
Down's syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome during fertilization. Along with distinguishable physical characteristics, the children are usually mentally handicapped.
McClurg deftly manages the practical and technical information needed for effective parenting. Various developmental stages of the child, accompanied by indispensable intervention and supplemental training information, such as infant stimulation programs and adult workshops, are solidly described. So are other "must knows," including special health problems, genetic testing, social adaptability, alternative living situations, financial assistance, legal rights, guardianship and conservatorship, and the importance of being an advocate for your child.
Parents' reactions and expectations are sensitively and intelligently explored. McClurg never preaches. Her words are hopeful, but cautionary: "No one can predict what your newborn baby can or cannot accomplish. The only thing you know for certain is that your child will be slower to learn and develop than normal babies."
Even without the above mentioned information, the book would be valuable for its thoughtful appendices of names, addresses and phone numbers of government agencies.