Our Hidden Children

E IS A man-boy who gives the impression
that he walks forever on eggs, and
that he somehow senses it himself. He
is the biggest boy in the House on
Martha Avenue, and if he wished to, or were
capable of wishing to, and then were unable to
un-wish, he could go through all the rooms, a
hurricane of destruction. All four teachers
together would be unable to stand against him.
There is no fear it will happen, on the part
of any of the teachers. And the possibility
does not occur to the children, to whom so
few, if any, possibilities do occur.

Herman, like the others, has something. The
difficulty, as with all the others, is to discover what it is.

Herman is interested, in his own peculiar
fashion, in people and events around him. He
looks steadily and fearlessly at visitors --
though briefly. He veils himself when his gaze
is met -- and whose meets his gaze has also the
urge to turn away. But Herman does look, and
seems to wonder, and any human being who shows
interest, however slight, for however brief a
time, can be hunted out.

Herman always eats his school lunch at the
same table, at the window with the mongoloid
boy, not quite Herman's chronological age, who
keeps saying, "Oh, no!" as if something exciting or fearsome were about to transpire, when
it may be only a passerby he notes from the
window. The two men-boys converse, and appear
to understand each other perfectly. They are
unconcerned, wholly, that others don't understand them. They are vaguely superior in their

Herman does not dominate, even at the table
with the mongoloid. Nor does he have the urge
to dominate. He does seem to have a very natural human urge: to get along. He creates no
disturbances. He is just there, his feeble
mind operative within its limits, his body
overflowing his chair, the table low under his
hulk. He is overweight. It is fortunate, possibly, that he is fat rather than powerful,
though even when he is being helped downstairs
to the study room of the larger boys and girls,
he gives the impression of brute power held in
leash -- not by will, but by lack of aggressiveness, lack of ambition, drive, lack.

Herman is the epileptic who must have
"shots", intravenously or orally, or undergo
three ox four seizures daily. This visitor has
never seen Herman in a seizure, so does not
know its effect, if any, on the other children
in the House on Martha Avenue. Herman seems
himself to guard against seizure, which is why
he gives the impression that he walks on eggs.

If Herman falls, and cannot rise himself,
he is a problem, for he obviously weighs more
than any of his teachers. It is obvious why
every effort is made to prevent epileptic

Herman moves under supervision. If he is
not told to move, he sits at his table. But if
he is told, or included in a group that is
told, to go to one of the closets and take out
some simple game, he will go to the closet and
T 1..m A I
R J. BURKS WAat 'Can Be SD.ane
Aiwa foie 9enetie 5'haged a.2
This is a continuation of the series in which Mr. . Burks analyzes
life in the Child Guidance Center,
Lancaster, Penn. These are only a
few of the estimated 4,o0y u
"genetic tragedies", one or more
of whom could be next door to you—
even inyour own home.—The EDITOR.

Lake out the same game time after time -- a game
that requires pegs to be placed in holes on a
board to form simple designs—and return to
his table.

Of the three boys at Herman's table (Terry
of the recent birthday being the third), only
Herman never helps clean up. Terry, of the
twisted hack and mind, and the mongoloid eagerly remove ice cream cups, pieces of cellophane, rumpled napkins, paper plates from the
table. Herman, watching them, but never advising, gives the impression not that he is lazy,
but that he must watch himself lest he overdo!
He is strangely an old man who must make no
hurried moves lest he have a "spell".

Herman has a shock of black hair that grows
low over his forehead. His head is bulbous,
but no more so than the heads of many intelligent, even brilliant men. His eyes are large,
open, frank, but clearly dull. His lips are
unusually thick, and his mouth often hangs
open. But he does not drool.

Down in the basement, when the larger children form an oval to bounce basketballs to
simple music, Herman stands, not entirely
steady, in the curve opposite the music, with
several children between himself and the phonograph.

Herman waits, timing himself, clumsily. He
isn't quite clumsy, for in common with many
others here, there is a certain delicacy of
touch and movement in his hands. He holds the
ball with both big hands, drops it. He is
careful to drop it straight down. Does he know
it will bounce beyond his reach if he doesn't?
Has he taken note of previous "bad drops" and
remembered? The ball returns to his hands and
is caught with ease and certainty. Herman
drops it again, but hesitates just long enough
between bounces so that the others bounce
their balls just twice as often! Once again he
gives the impression that he is saving himself, that he dares not overdo.

But the teacher gives Herman no special attention in class. She did walk ahead of him
down the stairs, holding onto his belt with
one firm hand lest he fall. He appears unable
to judge distance going downstairs, and while
he follows the teacher, he looks straight
ahead as if he moved under hypnosis.

Herman lax>ghs at mistakes made by his
schoolmates -- when they misbounce the ball, or
fail to catch it, or balls hit each other and
carom off, hitting other balls, hitting children, and in general disrupting the entire
effort. He doesn't himself miss very often but
when he does he laughs, a low rumble in his
throat, and his schoolmates laugh at him. He
appears to enjoy a simple jest on himself.

Herman is almost eighteen. He has now spent
three years in the House on Martha Avenue.
When he was reported to the school by his
mother, his toilet habits were as hit-or-miAs
as those of Miss Hit-or-Miss herself. He didn't know his own name. He knew when he was
hungry, so he ate, wolfishly.

He learned bathroom techniques sufficiently
to care for himself.
(Turn to Page 10. please)