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.
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