SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH MENTAL RETARDATION: A DEBATE FOR ALL SEASONS
AbstractThe intensity of emotion regarding the issues of services for persons with mental retardation is not surprising, but the scorn and animosity directed by each side at the other is particularly enigmatic. In contemporary western society, social policy debates often evoke passion, especially when persons perceived as underdogs or typically downtrodden are involved. When such populations are identified, concerned individuals, with differing backgrounds and ideologies band together, to champion the cause and attempt change through a variety of activities. These activities are often varied and might include fund raising, political protests, raising public awareness, increasing research activities, working with (or against) government and related public agencies, and planning appropriate programs. The conflict in such situations is often between the advocates of social change and govemment or other public agencies who are viewed as the agents of the unacceptable status quo. Although this scenario of advocates versus establishment represents a standard struggle for those involved in providing services for persons with mental retardation, the dispute between the proponents of integration and those who favour services in a segregated setting remains a particularly bitter one.
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