We have now reached the end of the first part of this book. Up to this point, we have discussed history, causes, classification, and diagnosis in a general way. The overall point has been that, through a democratic ideology and scientific study, our understanding of disorders of development has become more refined, and treatment programs have become more active and increasingly informed by the facts.
We now turn to a more detailed consideration of the nature of handicapping conditions by a review of various individual and social processes. In five chapters, current concepts about sensorimotor processes; attention, learning, and memory; thinking, play, and communication; motivation, personality, and psychopathology; and social relationships are reviewed. In all of these chapters, emphasis is placed on normal, as well as abnormal, development, and examples from the various types of handicap discussed in chapter 2 are used to show that all people share the same basic processes.
In this chapter, we deal with sensation and perception, brain organization, and motor organization. There is always a danger in oversimplifying basic sensorimotor processes. The idea that sensations are converted to responses in a linear series of steps is, perhaps, a convenient way of thinking about these processes. However, the situation is actually much more complex. Many processes can occur simultaneously. Sensations are part of an ongoing transaction between the children and the environment around them. Some sensory input affects the child's behavior, whereas most does not. Readiness states, motivation, and learning history are only a few of the determinants of which sensations do and do not affect the child.