windows were in front of a little used court, and to avoid visual distractions, they suggested covering the lower part of the windows with paint. In addition, they discouraged the teachers from wearing “distracting influence of ornamentation such as bracelets, earrings, dangling necklaces, and flowers in the hair” (Strauss & Lehtinen, 1947, p. 131).
In addition to focusing on manipulating the environment, Strauss and Lehtinen placed a heavy emphasis on remediating students’ perceptual disturbances:6
We cannot state too strongly that all these factors [e.g., emotional disturbance, immaturity, boredom, absence from school] can and do contribute toward reading difficulties in brain-injured children but beyond these factors one should seek for evidence of general or perceptual disturbances which, if present, should be clinically regarded as the primary causal agents and therefore the ones to be attacked. (Strauss & Lehtinen, 1947, p. 174)
William Cruickshank. While pursuing a doctorate at the University of Michigan, Cruickshank worked on research at Wayne County. There, he was heavily influenced by the ideas of Werner and Strauss:
There were others, but two…became particularly significant in my life: Dr. Heinz Werner and Dr. Alfred A. Strauss. These two men, along with their wives, became important persons to me and my wife, professionally and socially, and so remained until the two died. Strauss, the idea man, Werner the laboratory scientist so well epitomized in Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith. Both were patient; both were thoughtful to suggest and to raise questions which had to be answered. Both were energetic and constantly pointed other directions in which my professional life might go—theirs! The inoculation took well, and their thinking has been mine for more than thirty years. (Cruickshank, 1976, p. 102)
Cruickshank was key in building a bridge from the Wayne County research group’s work with children with mental retardation to children of normal intelligence, many of whom today would be identified as learning disabled. The construction of this bridge began with research on children with cerebral palsy.
After receiving his doctorate, Cruickshank took a position at Syracuse University in 1946. Along with his first doctoral student, Jane Dolphin, Cruickshank embarked on a series of studies. They found that students with cerebral palsy and near-normal, normal, or above-normal intelligence performed similarly to Werner and Strauss’s children with exogenous mental retardation (Dolphin, 1950; Dolphin & Cruickshank, 1951a, b, c, d). These studies were followed by even more extensive studies of perceptual and figure-background abilities in children with cerebral palsy of near-normal, normal, or above-normal intelligence (Cruickshank, Bice, & Wallen, 1957; Cruickshank, Bice, Wallen, & Lynch, 1965). Again, the children with cerebral palsy displayed more forced responsiveness to the background than did a control group who did not have cerebral palsy.
Finding the same behavioral characteristics in children with cerebral palsy as had been found in children with exogenous mental retardation led Cruickshank and Dolphin (1951) to recommend the same educational program for students with cerebral palsy as had been developed for those with exogenous mental retardation a la Strauss and Lehtinen (1947). In particular, their recommendations focused on the provision of a distraction-free environment.
In the late 1950s, Cruickshank took the notion of educational programming for distractible and hyperactive children one step further, a step that placed his work right in the middle of the developing field of learning disabilities. He initiated a demonstration-pilot study, the Montgomery County (Maryland) Project, for 1 year. The results, along with extensive descriptions of the students and teaching methods used, were published in A Teaching Method for Brain-Injured and Hyperactive Children (Cruickshank, Bentzen, Ratzeburg, & Tannhauser, 1961). The project included four classes (two experimental and two control) of 10 children each. The 40 children (37 males) were matched on chronological age, IQ, instructional or achievement levels, previous experience in special education, perseveration, hyperactivity, and evidence of neurological damage. At the beginning of the year, the students ranged in age from about 6 to 9 years and