The Civil Rights Movement: A Time of Hope for the Developmentally Disabled

Following a long and endless history of torture and suffering, the Civil Rights Movement brought a tide of change for the developmentally and intellectually disabled. After World War 2, several soldiers returned home physically disabled, and the President of the time, Franklin Roosevelt, who himself was afflicted with polio put all his efforts behind the rehabilitation of handicapped soldiers. What started off as rehabilitation of the physically disabled soldiers soon led to a full-fledged movement that demanded that the rights of all disable individuals, including developmentally and intellectually disabled people, be addressed satisfactorily.

The Civil Rights Movement eventually gave birth to the Disabilities Right Movement in the 1960′s, bringing disabled people to the forefront and giving them a chance to express their opinions and voice their demands. The 1970′s saw disabled people coming together in protests to demand basic human rights including opportunities for fair employment, education and shelter. A similar movement, called the Independent-Living Movement made the same demands, asking for laws and amenities that allowed the developmentally and intellectually disabled to live their lives independently, instead of being forced to live in institutions and mental hospitals.

The protests and activism resulted in the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 in the United Kingdom. In the USA, the Rehabilitation Act was created in 1973 followed by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1980. In 1990, these acts were passed as the law and the historical event was marked by the Disabilities Pride March in Boston.

The ultimate aim of these acts was to integrate disabled people into the society and they successfully and legally eliminated various psychological, social and medical malpractices that the developmentally disabled had to suffer through for years. They were no longer segregated from the rest of the population and had the same legal and social responsibilities as everyone else. They were allowed in schools with the rest of the community and simultaneously special schools and institutions with trained specialists and experts were set up for them. Jobs were created for the disabled and there were rules and laws against the abuse of ill treatment of developmentally disabled individuals.

Technology was growing during these years and this was effectively used to further solve various problems of the developmentally disabled. Elevators and wheelchairs made life easier and various public facilities were adapted to suit the needs of disabled people. From the beginning of the 1960′s, the developmentally disabled found themselves accepted in society. Technology and laws allowed them to live with some semblance of independence and freedom and this gave them the confidence and strength to lead a life of self respect.

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education,abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental disabilities.

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The Rise of Medication for Treatment of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The treatment of intellectual and developmental disabilities has a long history that is glaringly characterized by abuse, torture and malpractices. In the ancient era, the developmentally disabled were simply left to die. Caging them, isolating them and abandoning them were common practices since it was widely believed that there was no treatment for such individuals. Later, the concept of institutionalization and hospitalization came about but there was little change in the way people mistreated the developmentally disabled and were repulsed by them. For a long time trepanation and blood letting were considered effective treatments, but patients undergoing such treatments often died. It wasn’t until the 1900′s that the world was truly exposed to the plight of the disabled and attempted to better their situation. The scientific and medical community spent more time and money researching developmental disabilities, and this was especially noticeable after the Civil Right Movement and the Disability Rights Movement during the 1950′s. Psychotropic Medication for Developmental Disabilities is a concept that was deeply researched after the mid- 1900′s and today is perhaps the most widely accepted and effective method for treating a wide range of developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The 1950′s are considered the decade of development of antipsychotics. The 1960′s were the decade of the antidepressants while the 19070′s was the decade of anxiolytics, used for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Mood Stabilizers and Stimulants were successfully created to address a wide range of disabilities including bipolar disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia and narcolepsy. Psychedelics and hypnotics refer to a group of medical drugs that had strong effects on the patient and are consumed only under strict medical supervision. Today, the medical community is researching and working towards a new kind of psychotropic medication; commonly referred to as “second generation” drugs. These drugs are developed to treat specific types of illnesses. Modern Science and technology has allowed scientists to create “second generation” drugs that are much more effective and have fewer side effects than the ones that were earlier administered to the developmentally disabled.

The hard truth remains that even the most advanced drugs and medication cannot completely cure developmental and intellectual disabilities. Psychotropic drugs are administered for two reasons: either to better a medical condition or to prevent it from getting worse. They cannot be expected to cure a severe developmental disability or illness, but it must be remembered that this is still a giant leap from the medical treatments that were being practiced only a few decades ago. Science has been progressing at a fascinating rate, and maybe sometime soon an accurate and effective treatment for severe and sometimes debilitating developmental disabilities will be created.

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education,abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental disabilities.

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