Parallels In Time V. The Reawakening 1950 - 1980 A. 1947 - 1980 The Parent's Movement
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Play VideoVideo: ARC parents organizing in the 1950s

While the United States was enjoying an economic boom following the Great Depression and World War II – increased leisure time, a restored tax base, greater educational opportunities and an increase in college admissions due to the GI Bill, and new job opportunities-parents of children with disabilities began to organize at a local and national level. People were able to turn their attention to matters other than economic survival.

Although conditions were improving for most people in our country, including persons with disabilities, public institutions were overcrowded and understaffed. Parents of children with disabilities began to form their own support and advocacy groups because few supports and services were available in the community.


In 1947, the American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) held its annual convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Professionals at this gathering promoted the emerging parents' movement. Although some professionals were a little fearful of the parents' demands, they welcomed their efforts in lobbying for better institutions and encouraged them to keep up their work. At the 1948 AAMD convention in New Orleans, part of the agenda was devoted to parent group action. Speakers included Mr. Reuben T. Lindh of the Minneapolis Association of Parents and Friends of the Mentally Retarded, and Mrs. L.H. Riggs of the Hamilton County (Ohio) Council for Retarded Children.