Specialized Social Groups
Throughout history persons with disabilities have faced adversity. Because of lack of education about how to best serve or help people with disabilities, this caused many misconceptions about who they are as people. With time, our advancement of knowledge and our advancement in civilization, persons with disabilities have many programs and opportunities that were not offered as little as 30 years ago. Even with our advancement in our treatment and rights of persons with disabilities, there are still stereotypes and obvious disadvantages among this population of people. One clear disadvantage is the lack of social relationships among this population. Families or care providers can receive many services for persons with disabilities, but there seems to be little to no activities to engage this population is social activities. Stereotypes cause people to misunderstand people with disabilities. Many people assume that people with disabilities are “not all there” when in actuality there are truly and fully there just in different ways than others and different from each other as they are each individual. One way to overcome this type of disadvantage would be to provide group activities outside of agencies that are specifically based on social interactions. Social interactions play a key role in our development throughout life and in regards to this population it has seemed to be one area that is less focused on. With the creation of specialized social groups that key development process is being met in a way that is beneficial to this population of people.
Over the course of history, the misconceptions about people with disabilities have caused some very heinous acts against this population.
“In Rome, children with disabilities were treated as objects of scorn. Children who were blind, deaf or mentally retarded were publicly persecuted and reported to have been thrown in the Tiber River by their parents. Some children born with disabilities were mutilated to increase
their value as beggars. Other children born with disabilities were left in the woods to die, their feet bound together to discourage anyone passing by from adopting them. In the military city of Sparta, the abandonment of "deformed and sickly" infants was a legal requirement.”(ADA Legacy Project).
It was also not uncommon for a person who was wealthy to keep a person with disabilities as a “fool” or “court jester”. Over the course of history, persons with disabilities were forced into idiot cages to “keep them out of trouble”, they were placed on ships and traveled to different ports while the crew members received money from people who could mock at them and eventually would leave them at a port somewhere. Over time “…the rise of Christianity led to more humane practices toward persons with disabilities.” (ADA Legacy Project). This led to almshouses or poorhouses based on the Elizabethan Poor Laws founded in 1601 (Kirst-Ashman). Still the conditions remained poor. Over time institutions became the norm. Most of these institutions still didn’t quite focus on helping the individuals it was thought to be more of a basic care type of idea. Children with disabilities still had no specialized programs in the public schools.
Only 30+ years ago in the 70’s, we still had places like Willowbrook. Willowbrook was an institution that housed the most patients, those with disabilities and those with severe mental health issues, at one time 5,300 people. The conditions of Willowbrook were horrible. There was no care going on because the state would not allocate more funds for this program. It was not until the mid-late 70’s that there was a real shift in deinstitutionalization. We began to see community based