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THE PARENT GROUPS AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

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.

During the 1949 AAMD convention, the suggestion was made to incorporate the parent groups into the AAMD. Incoming president Mildred Thomson, however, thought that the best way that the AAMD could support parents was to assist them in developing their own organization. A steering committee was established and plans were made for a national parents' conference to be held later that year.

Mildred Thompson
Mildred Thompson

In the fall of 1950, ninety persons from across the country came together in Minneapolis to participate in this first national conference. Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl was the featured speaker.

Minnesota Governor
Luther Youngdahl
Minnesota Governor
Luther Youngdahl

Audio: Governor Youngdahl

The point is this, ladies and gentlemen, the retarded child is a human being ... And for reasons for which neither he nor his family are responsible, he is retarded. He has the same rights that children everywhere have. He has the same right to happiness, the same right to play, the right to companionship, the right to be respected, the right to develop to the fullest extent within his capacities, and the right to love and affection...

We cannot discriminate against this child, deny to this child the rights other children have because of the one thing that neither he nor his family can help, because he is retarded ...

He has a right to these things and his parents have a right to know that he has these rights. For they, too, are entitled to peace of mind about what is happening to a retarded child separated from them.