We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Society Has Come a Long Way on Disability Front
This is a heartening story about
dedicated people effecting meaningful change for a clearly definable
problem.Yes Virginia, it can be done.
In 1960, social problems had not
been addressed or at best they had succumbed to ill considered fixes that often
created a larger problem.This story is
about the disability sector in which often otherwise able individuals were
trapped into a storage facility rather than a support facility.Sometimes that is really the only
choice.I have personally worked with the
hopelessness of severe retardation.The
worst come to the institution because their natural caregivers are simply
unable to cope at all.In fact, the
worst cases are also difficult for trained staff to handle.
Yet the present regime struggles
to make the institution the true last resort.
The system is still evolving and
I see the time coming in which most will have a home contributing as best they
can while fully supported by the community in which they reside.Today, we are visibly well on the way.
In 1950 a child born with a developmental disabilities had no chance.
In those days doctors suggested to parents that it might be
best to just let their child die in the hospital.
At home in the neighborhood the other children made fun of them.
Schools didn't want them. Nobody wanted them. There was no special education field to speak
of. Children were shipped off to large state institutions where they wasted
away with custodial care.
In 1969 I was an intern in clinical psychology assigned to help a
six-year-old girl diagnosed with autism. Annette didn't do much
except scream. According to her records, she lacked language and understanding. None of my
supervisors had any idea what to do to stop her from screaming. When she
screamed she would dig her fingers into her neck and bounce up and down
banging her armpits into her knees. She had deep abrasions and infections from
the self-inflicted damage.
After working with Annette within an applied behavior analysis
paradigm, I managed to reduce her screaming significantly. One day Annette told
me she didn't want to scream anymore. That was when I learned she could talk.
This is not such a happy story, however, because after I had had some success
in improving her behavior, I discovered there was no place for her to go except
back to the miserable institution in which she lived.
How things have changed!
I met Elizabeth Boggs at an annual conference in 1985. In the 1970s she
was a force in organizing parents and getting the Arc of the United States
going. Elizabeth and her parents had organized well enough to get the Congress
to pass a bill funding special education, but they feared a veto from President
Nixon. So Elizabeth
joined forces with Elsie Helsel (United Cerebral Palsy), because Elsie's mom
knew Richard Nixon. Mom delivered. Nixon signed the DD Act. I met Elsie in 1991
when she told me the story. It is how "developmental
disabilities" came to be: Elizabeth (intellectual disabilities) plus Elsie
The DD Act opened the federal spigots for funding for special
education. The schools became responsible for educating all children, including
those who had disabilities. Closed doors began to open like never before.
In 1982 David Braddock started public policy analysis in the field of
developmental disabilities. At the time I supervised him. When he first told me
what he wanted to do, I had little idea of how important the work would become.
But I knew Dave is sincere and brilliant.
Braddock's data showed that the community had 50% of the people but
only 10% of the money. The advocates were successful in moving people out of
institutions and into the community, but they had less success in moving the
money. Dave went on collecting data; he travelled up and down the land
presenting the data to state legislative committees and federal agencies; and
the money flows corrected. The leaders of the disabilities field didn't just
close institutions; they also built up community services.
The lawyers in the field, with the parent advocates, closed institution
after institution. Community services were created. Ruth Luckasson made a
difference reforming the criminal system. A group of psychiatrists—Frank
Menolascino, Irving Philips—plus Rob Fletcher—helped make possible serving
people with a "dual diagnosis" in the community. This further
weakened the institutions.
Today a child born with a developmental disabilities will be served
in the community. What a legacy for the scores of advocates and
professionals who were in the trenches the last 30 years or so.
Some have suggested it was the tide of history that led to so much
change. I hear some say that it all would have happened even without them. I
disagree. Sure history was going to close the institutions sooner or later, but
it happened so fast, and the community service system was built so fast, that I
think it is a credit to all those who participated—all the advocates, the
dedicated professionals, and the people who created the community
Life has changed dramatically for millions of people. I
am fortunate to have been a witness, and I learned a lot from those who
led the social change.