By Robert J. Flynn, Raymond Lemay
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Additional resources for A Quarter-Century of Normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and Impact
This gathering, of which I was the organizer and one of 30 participants, was masterfully led by Richard Sterner. It included active representatives from Great Britain, Ireland, the United States, France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Nordic countries. Niels Erik Bank-Mikkelsen, Lennart Wessman, and Karl Grunewald acted as experts. The symposium was a landmark for the League. I can still remember the happy atmosphere of accomplishment and satisfaction as we realized that we had put together something quite important and internationally significant.
Writing in 1993, and looking back to the 1950s, I described the situation as follows (Nirje, 1993): There were no community services for the children, no schools for those who were not considered "educable," no occupation for those who could not work in the open market—sheltered workshops were not intended for them—or on farms for a meagre board and lodging, which was sometimes only a cover for humiliating serfdom. There were no family services to speak of and no leisure-time arrangements, except for a few small summer programs run by the FUB local associations.
Such a situation can create a very unhealthy climate and dark moods. I also learned how hard it is to live with so many other persons in close quarters, day and night—100 to 160 per room, week after week after week. It means never having a "private space" for oneself for daily recuperation, satisfying daily activities, or meaningful recreation. There is no place for you, your family, and your few belongings. You have to be strong, even if you are competent and not intellectually disabled. But you can become mentally "wounded" and socially handicapped, of that you can be sure!