Turning The Page On Institutionalization Of The Developmentally Disabled

Michelle Arquines
Wikipedian Assignment
Foundations of Special Education
Submitted August 1, 2007

Category: Developmental Delays
Topic: What are Developmental Delays?

Families Get Help Finding Loved Ones Lost in Institutions
Article link:
Additional Links:
• “Where’s Molly?” website - http://www.wheresmolly.net/
• The Arc – www.thearc.org

This will be my second Wiki article written from a historical perspective. I chose this article, and it is quite timely, because (1) it just appeared on the FRONT PAGE of CNN.com and featured on NPR – both national news, and that’s a really big deal! — and (2) my other article regarding developmental disabilities was entirely too data-driven and wasn’t incredibly interesting to me.

This article takes a look back at the current effect on families of the institutionalization of the developmentally disabled. The article comes at the time of a release of a new documentary called “Where’s Molly,” about one man’s lifelong search for his lost sister, who diagnosed as “profoundly retarded” by doctors in the 1960’s, when she was still a toddler.

The article details the attitudes toward the developmentally disabled that prevailed throughout the 20th century, and how these have shifted throughout the years. The characteristics of each decade reflect a slow progression toward acceptance of developmentally disabled people into mainstream culture, though that ultimate goal has clearly not been reached even in the present day.

Also discussed in the article is the institutionalization of the developmentally disabled in the 20th century, and how it was the modus operandi of the times. Because of the stigma attached to having a developmentally disabled child at that time, most parents sent their DD children to institutions to live out their lives, often in shameful and appalling conditions. One statistic shows that as many as 100,000 children were housed in 162 state facilities in the U.S. in the late 1960’s.

Now, the advocacy group “The Arc” (Association of Retarded Citizens) has begun operating a family finder service called “ArcLink” to help locate family members who may have been institutionalized, and provide reunions. The individual discussed in this article and the subject of the documentary “Where’s Molly” are an example of a success story from ArcLink. After 47 years, Jeff Daly found his DD sister Molly with the assistance of this service.