Thursday, 2 February 2012

From Good to Bad to Good - Institutional Transition

Langdon Down was built in 1868 on the outskirts of London, England to house hundreds of people with developmental disabilities. It was built by Dr. John Langdon Down on forty-two acres. Not quite Downton Abbey, but the buildings ARE very beautiful. For the last ten years, Langdon Down has been the address of the UK Down's Syndrome Association (yes, it was Dr. John Down who named that condition). The institution itself closed in 1997 when the last of the residents was moved into community housing arrangements.

Langdon Down now houses the first and only museum for people with 'learning disabilities' (aka developmental disabilities). In 1868, those with disabilities and their families would have been very grateful indeed for Dr. Down and his compassionate care. Undoubtedly too though, there will have been many sad tales of neglect or abuse in such a large and longstanding institution. Yet, it strikes me as wonderful that this grand home is now a museum of the history of how we cared for and about our fellow humans with disabilities throughout the ages. This article in today's Guardian newspaper is a must read - I commend it to you.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,

Speaking of learning disabilities, I believe that Nicholas is much brighter than would think.

Please tell me, "Can Nick still reach for things above his midline?" The only reason why I ask is, "There is a senior Technician at Holland Bloorview who is developing an iPad stand for those with disabilities, and although I never seen it, I'm wondering, 'Could we not place the stand in front of Nick, while he's in bed, empowering him to explore the world on his own?" Moreover, with the iPad, one doesn't need to press a button on a keyboard, they must only touch it ever so gently.

Like you, "I think aloud."

Matt Kamaratakis

Donna Thomson said...

Hi there, Matt! Nick uses an Ipad with Proloquo2Go. His partner/carer reads him word choices and he says Yeah for the word he wants to say. He used to use a dynavox with head switches, but when sitting became painful, we ditched that. He can still sit in his chair, but for shorter periods, so we were trying to figure out a system that would work for bed too. A single switch in bed was way too unreliable and slow. (The head switches were slow too!) I think the auditory scanning is the fastest and Nick has some (a few) words that he can say to GREAT effect. He uses inflection to give lots of meaning. I have heard about this new Ipad from Bloorview! I'm going to speak to the parent group there in April, so I'm going to check it out. Thank you for mentioning it and keep on thinking out loud!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Donna,

Not only do I promise to keep thinking out loud, but hopefully we do can some wonderful things together in the future!

I will be at Holland Bloorview on April 10th to say, "Hello!!!"

love
matt

p.s. Did Nick watch the All-Star game? Truth be told, "His Senators may be better than my Leafs, but this is utterly irrelavant, as the Bruins are going are going to repeat!

Donna Thomson said...

Yep, he sure did watch the All Stars! He also went to the NHL Fanfair and I've got some great pix of him there with the Stanley Cup. I've got to blog about that!!!

Anonymous said...

Although I love writing, as it helps me to clarify my thoughts and impress upon the status quo, typing can be tedious for most with cerebral palsy, and ecspecially so for Nick.

Nonetheless, what I have learned is, "We must use whatever works, irrespective of one's typing speed." For example, sometimes, when writing or leaving a comment on the BLOOM blog, I have no choice but to use Microsoft Word, as this enables me to write over two days, finally pasting it when I'm done.

I wish for no recognition or praise. I simply want to help the people.

Matt Kamaratakis

p.s. Tell Nicholas to check his blog.