It is only in recent history that there has been such a thing as Autism Services or any services for people with disabilities. Understanding the history is important for parents to know how far services have come. It also keeps them from getting discouraged when Autism Services seem to go so slow.
In the distant past a baby or a young child with a disability was left by the side of the road. Many children died. The lucky ones were picked up by couples who could not have children Other children were picked up to be slaves or workers.
Some families kept their loved ones in cellars or attics. They also used cages. As bad as this sounds many times these families loved the person. It was necessary to use these measures so people could work.
Some where in the early 1900’s people started to realize people with disabilities could learn and do things. At that point schools still did not accept children with disabilities. You might find people with disabilities working with parents in the kitchens or fields. Sometimes they were still kept locked up.
In roughly the 1960’s parents started to organize schools in the attics or cellars. Because it was considered a statement on the family’s genetics many families still kept their children at home.
Some parents had organized advocacy organizations like the ARC’s. They went door to door and literally begged people to tell them about the family members that were essentially hidden.
Armed with some hard numbers these early parent advocates went to the federal legislature for our children. They convinced legislators that our children could learn and deserved to learn. This led to the early laws that insisted children with disabilities be included in schools.
At about the same time those same parents were advocating for other services for our children. This was the period we saw large institutions built for our children. Many parents were told that their entire family would be damaged by keeping a child with a disability at home.
Institutions were state of the art services at that time though. We owe a serious debt of gratitude for these parents. As with everything the culture and the beliefs of parents changed.
Many parents wondered why their child could not receive some if not most of these same services at home. Parents in general believed they could pay rent, utilities, and raise their children. They just needed a little help. This has led to the services many families receive for their child with Autism or other disabilities in their home.
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