Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Vehement opposition to group homes

Meg Casey
October 12, 1983

Question: Dear Meg,

I have read a few articles in recent months regarding the establishment of "Group Homes" for the disabled in the community where the might live together in a shared, somewhat monitored, secure and home-like environment actually set up in homes located in family type neighborhoods. I think that this is a marvelous idea! I have difficulty believing that anyone could "vehemently" oppose a project of this kind starting up in his or her community. What is so frightening about the whole thing?

K.C.

Answer: Hi K.C.

I was wondering if your use the word frightening was intentional or if it slipped out of your mind without you realizing just how appropriate a word it was for that situation. I believe those prospective neighbors are frightened by ignorance. Their own ignorance of what exactly a person with a disability is, – what “they" are like, what "they" do, and how one goes about "getting" in that condition begin with.

That sounds ridiculous I know but I assure you that people who need to be educated in his basic manner really do exist and that they are not as rare as either of us would like to think.

Even though things are much better today for the disabled person than in the past, the societies of the world are only just beginning to recognize the wasted potential of the disabled citizenry. Some are now trying to understand where they went wrong in the treatment of those people and how to set about undoing it all.

The ignorant soles of today are products of the societies throughout the ages who blindly continued to repeat mistakes and old customs of proceeding generations without ever known the justification of the actions they carried out. Anyone or thing that went against that order of life was not understood and therefore posed a direct threat to their sense of security. To many the unknown is terrifying. It is to these people that all of the Awareness Activities about people with disabilities, and even this column, is directed and meant to educate. We offer a format whereby people can learn about one another in a dignified manner. We give an outlet for asking the questions that have been locked up inside for too long because curiosity about such matters was "taboo." I can tell the kids in school that without curiosity a person can't learn. Unless a person learns he won't grow to expand his horizons to full potential.

The de-institutionalization of people with disabilities into a Group Home situation is no threat to public safety. No one unable to maintain him or her self in society would be put in jeopardy of having to deal with the rest of the crazy members of the society at large before he or she was emotionally and physically ready to deal with it. Nor will the conditions be contagious. There are some really wonderful people in this world and they come in all shapes, colors and sizes.

The problem of hiding institutionalizing the disabled took centuries to build to this stage and it is going to take more than a day to dismantle. With patience, a stubborn determination and some more people like you to spread a few positive thoughts around perhaps the task will be a little easier to accomplish. Thanks!


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originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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