The unified efforts of parents resulted in a significant shift in the methods and approaches of providing services to people with disabilities. The stigma of having a child with disabilities was easing. The contributions of parents were greater during this 30 to 40 year period than at any other time in our country's history.
THE FIRST PARENT GROUPS
As early as 1933, the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Council for the Retarded Child was established. In 1936, the Children's Benevolent League was organized and later became the Washington Association for Retarded Children. A few years later, the Welfare League for Retarded Children was started in New York. By 1950, a total of 88 such groups with a membership of 19,300 persons had been established in 19 states.
At first, parents came together a few at a time, usually in someone's home. In both New York and New Jersey, parents looked for support by placing advertisements in the local newspaper: "Are there any other parents out there who have a retarded child? Would you be interested in meeting and talking about this with another parent?"
These groups were the result of a growing concern of parents for their children, many of whom lived in large state institutions. The initial goal of these organizations was to provide support for parents of children with disabilities.