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Usher's Syndrome: What It Is, How to Cope, and How to Help.

This book is an introduction to Usher's Syndrome for patients, parents and professionals, and is not intended to be a scholarly effort. With an emphasis on providing basic information about Usher's Syndrome, it is written in a comfortable, easy-to-read style that can be read in one to four sittings.

It is obvious that the book has been prepared by a multidisciplinary team of professionals with long-standing experience and expertise in working with deaf-blindness. The book meets several needs identified by the authors through their professional and social interactions with persons who have Usher's Syndrome and their families. These include the need to have basic information about the condition, the need to know the types of strategies persons with Usher's Syndrome use to cope with the condition, and the need to know about the types of services that are available.

Chapter One consists of information obtained from six interviews with a variety of people who have Usher's Syndrome. The variety in age, gender and professional background allows each reader to find one or two persons with whom he/she might identify. Photographs also provide a personal connection with the interviewees. Information is presented according to categories used in the interview: feelings of isolation and rejection, understanding the problem, coping strategies, social and recreational activities, satisfaction and goals. The combination of responses shows some similar experiences and other very unique ones.

Chapter Two presents specific, rudimentary medical information about the syndrome in such a way that it will be easy for affected individuals and their families to assimilate. One of the most useful aspects of this chapter is a visual demonstration of the loss of peripheral vision as it looks to persons with Usher's. It also provides illustrations of the degeneration that occurs by blocking out sections of a series of photographs to show the amount and type of loss involved over time.

A slight change of pace occurs in Chapter Three. Written for professionals who are charged with communicating the diagnosis, this chapter offers suggestions to practitioners for helping families and patients understand the functional implications of the syndrome. For example, difficulties associated with driving a car and engaging in night-time activities are presented. Another valuable aspect of this chapter is a 13-page list of resources throughout the United States. Throughout the chapter, the emphasis is on the need for sensitivity to the individual's and family's feelings at the time of diagnosis and as the condition progresses.

Chapter Four gives an overview of the psychological adjustment to the condition. It discusses the factors that affect adjustment, the impact and reaction of the deaf community to persons with Usher's Syndrome, the importance of early diagnosis, special concerns of adolescents, feelings of isolation, and issues of independence and self-reliance. This chapter should be helpful for persons with the disability, their families and professionals.

Chapter Five introduces educational concerns associated with Usher's Syndrome. It discusses myths about deafness, communication modes, educational placement options, educational implications, educational needs, vocational choices and post-secondary education. This information will be useful to those who are making decisions about the future of persons with the condition and particularly to persons who have Usher's Syndrome as they make decisions for themselves.

Chapter Six offers an excellent introduction to vocational rehabilitation and the types of services it offers. It also offers a minimal review of the types of vocational issues faced by persons who are deaf-blind and a list of potential job opportunities for these individuals.

Chapter Seven stresses the use of recreation and other resources to help establish a sense of community and to avoid the sense of isolation often felt by persons with Usher's Syndrome. It offers practical suggestions/options to persons with the condition.

I found this book to be immediately useful and have already recommended it to professional colleagues and to a family seeking information about Usher's Syndrome. If the reader is seeking in-depth information about the condition or a scholarly approach (i.e., related research or references), this book will not meet those needs. Rather, it is designed to provide an overview of information that is presented in a simple, easy-to-read manner that families and patients can understand. Throughout the book, the writers make themselves accessible to persons with Usher's Syndrome. In the introduction, for example, they invite the reader to contact the Center on Deafness (facility at which many of the writers are employed) for answers to questions or referrals to local services.

Charlene M. Kampfe, Ph.D., Division of

Rehabilitation Counseling, University of

North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
COPYRIGHT 1990 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Kampfe, Charlene M.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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