Also during this time, the U.S. Government made its first attempt to determine the number of persons with intellectual deficiency. Although these efforts may have been flawed by confusing mental illness with intellectual deficiency, there was a reported increase in the number of persons with disabilities during the 19th century:
Census Results for Mental Retardation
Some believed that this increase was due to the large number of "defective" immigrants, and argued for the construction of more and larger institutions. However, there was a significant rise in the entire U.S. population during this time.
HOPE IN PROPER TRAINING
With proper training, it was believed, many persons with disabilities could be educated to return to the community and lead productive lives. Optimism for the early "training schools," the increasing awareness of the numbers of persons with disabilities, and reformers such as Dorothea Dix, resulted in an increase in the number of institutions. At this time, the underlying belief was that through proper education and humanitarian means, we could "make the deviant undeviant" – we could change them to fit better into the world.