Shortly into the postwar years a group of Seattle parents decided to resist the decades-old concept that developmentally disabled people should be institutionalized. In this collection of narratives, family members, including those who are developmentally disabled, speak about growing up to be self-determined and strong. They discuss educating school systems that refuse to consider the developmentally disabled as learners above all, and living as fully-enfranchised citizens in a society still mired in fear and pity. The photographs tell of fully inclusive families who strove to bring all the children in their midst fully fledged into the outside world, of happy and useful adults who never had to cope with the horrors of life in cages, and of the remarkable few in the helping professions who understood that we all belong here, and we are all precious. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
This secret history of the lives and treatment of the developmentally disabled, as told by parents and siblings, is one of those marvelous books whose parts add up to something much greater than their sum. The individual family narratives tell of struggles: against doctors who automatically advocate institutionalization, against schools that refuse to teach Down's Syndrome children to read for fear of damaging their psyches, against psychologists who suggest dressing their children in drab-colored clothing, so as not to attract undue attention. These oral histories bring to light the little-known story of a movement relegated to the sidelines of the civil rights struggle, fought by mothers from living rooms and church basements and won in the federal courts. Schwartzenberg, a photographer and visual artist, puts her own photographs side by side with family snapshots and other archival documents for a book that transforms the intimacy of its individual stories into something of profound universal resonance. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.