Selected factors influencing the care and treatment of the mentally retarded person: 1960 to 1985




Woods, Eleanor

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This study is a historical perspective dealing with the care and treatment people who are mentally retarded have experienced throughout history. The years chosen to detail were those where the greatest changes occurred, 1960 to 1985. The purpose of the study was to acquire a basic understanding of who these people are, what they have been subjected to, what changes have occurred, where are they currently in society, and what are the possible implications for their future care and treatment. Data was collected, researched, and reviewed pertaining to the field of mental retardation. Selected factors were emphasized that influenced the care and treatment of people with mental retardation. Those selected factors were societal attitudes, legislation, litigation, normalization, and the role of the nurse. They were specifically investigated to understand what impact they had on the field of mental retardation past, present, and future. Sources of information were from published books, professional and lay periodicals containing newspaper clippings, documents researched and requested from the state capitol, and personal interviews with people involved in the field of mental retardation. These sources were compared and contrasted in the final compilation of this historical study. A review of the general history of the field of mental retardation is initially presented. Secondly, a general history of mental retardation in the United States is covered, as well as its history in the State of Texas. Emphasis on the years 1960 to 1985 are presented in ten year blocks highlighting major changes during each decade. Major concepts related to the field of mental retardation are also addressed. Tables listing specific landmark decisions affected people who are mentally retarded are presented in a chronological format. Cognition of those historical aspects dealing with people who are mentally retarded and the long struggle they have endured to acquire their legal rights will hopefully permit professionals to make more humane decisions effecting their future care, treatment, and management.