A Way out of the Wilderness (U.S. Rehabilitation Services Admin., 1968)

A Way out of the Wilderness (U.S. Rehabilitation Services Admin., 1968)

[Music] [Narrator:] There was a time in the not-too-distant
past when society hid its mentally retarded behind
rock walls and shuttered windows and fed them and wrapped them in a semblance
of clothing and tried to forget them and tried to blot
out an abstract feeling of guilt for having brought them into the world. And tried to blot out a more tangible feeling
of guilt for not knowing what to do with them or not choosing to do what was known that
might in some way enrich the lives of those labeled with that
broad catch-all name: retarded. For too many years, it has been a wilderness, uncultivated waste, barren and empty. For too many years, the mentally retarded, living in places called institutions, have lived in the bewilderment of a wilderness. [Girl:] Sherry? Sherry? Today, in a few places across the land, some
retarded individuals are being helped to find a way out of the
wilderness. [Girl:] Sherry? Sherry? [Music] [Girl:] Sherry, come on we’re going to be
late. [Narrator:] This small private institution
in the Midwest is a new kind of home for retarded children. It has been designed and scaled to look like a home rather than an institution, a home where retarded children are prepared
for their return to the outside world. [Music] [Female staff member:] What’s the matter, Kent? [Kent:] I can’t find a shirt to wear. [Female staff member:] You can’t? Well, what’s wrong with this one? Mother just sent it to you and I think it’s
real pretty. Okay? Come on get it on. Hurry up, you’re going
to be late for therapy. [Narrator:] What sets this home apart from
many institutions is often quite simple. Bedrooms are small, four beds to a room. Silverware and dishes instead of institutional
plastic trays and large spoons. [Kitchen staff member:] Remember Valerie, seven children at each table. [Valerie:] Okay… [Female teacher] Alice, out there, the tree, [Alice:] Tree! [Teacher:] Say tree… down on the ground, bird, say it for me, bird. [Narrator:] Windows everywhere allow the outside in and encourage a child to think about the world
beyond. [Harry, a teacher:] That’s it, make your curves. Now, we will use the flat cinderblock for that, go ahead and work on the curves with this. [Kent:] Wow, there sure is lots of clouds
out there. Harry, I think it’s going to rain. Harry, I think it’s going to rain if it’s dark outside. [Harry:] Well, if you don’t go finish your
birdhouse, there’s going to be a lot of wet birds out there. [Laughter] [Music] [Narrator:] Learning experiences are carefully structured, yet there is little sense of regimentation. [Girl:] Do you like it, Mrs. Sanderson? [Mrs. Sanderson:] Oh I like that, I like the
red mouth. She really looks like she’s smiling. Is that yellow felt you used for the hair? [Girl:] Um-hm. You should see what Sherry found. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Well, let’s go see. [Girl:] Okay. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Sherry, do you have something to show me? What is it? [Girl:] Show it to her, Sherry. [Sherry:] I found this leaf in the woods,
I like it. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Oh, I like it, too. [Music] [Narrator:] The children lead busy, active
lives. The waking hours of their days are programmed by professionals of various disciplines. [Male physical therapist:] Push ahead. Push ahead. [Male physical education teacher:] Get your balance, get some height now. Get some height, okay higher, watching the
ball now, playing catch, Sherry. Here we come. That’s it, okay. Another one,
right back to me. [Female:] At six days of age, Robert had a
craniotomy and since then has had a seizure problem. [Doctor:] He’s also had some developmental problems,
too. [Female:] That’s right. [Doctor:] Why did he have the craniotomy? [Female:] He had a subdural hematoma. [Narrator:] There is a large state university
nearby, and the permanent staff of the home is augmented by doctors, student teachers, and other professionals in training. [Doctor:] Eyes have some strabismus. Has he had an ophthalmological evaluation? [Female:] According to our family history,
no. [Doctor:] Okay. Give me…show me your teeth here. He’s also got some orthodontic problems here. Has he had an orthodontist have a
look at his teeth? [Female:] No. [Doctor:] We should have that as a consultation, too. [Female:] All right. [Assisted by a teacher, a student learns different tones using a xylophone] [Narrator:] The equation is a relatively simple one. With university cooperation there is more
staff, more professionalism, and therefore, more personalized attention. [Female teacher:] Now then, Kent, I want you to pick each fruit out and tell me what its name is and put it on
the picture that matches it. [Kent:] A banana. [Female teacher:] A banana. Good, Kent. [Another female teacher:] John, what is that? [John:] What? [Teacher:] What is that? [John:] Ball. [Teacher:] Ball. [John:] That’s a ball. [Teacher:] John, you say ball? [John:] Ball. [Teacher:] Ball. [John:] Ball. [Teacher:] Good boy, John. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Let’s see if you can get another letter to mail, Sherry. This word is… [Sherry:] Shoe. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Very good. Tell me something about shoe and you can mail it in the mailbox. [Sherry:] A brown shoe. [Mrs. Sanderson:] Very good. Here’s your letter. [Sherry’s father:] Sherry is a
pretty girl, somewhat like her mother. She’s not like some of the children in the
school here and we’re mainly concerned about the, the
future and what she can do and can learn. [Female administrator:] We were talking about this just the other day at a staff conference. It was brought up that Sherry gets along very
well with the girls in her group, and we were thinking about the problems that
these girls are going through at this age. Let’s say if adolescence is a troubled time
for normal average children, it must be an even more troubled time for
the retarded child. [Narrator:] A child must not be abandoned,
not by parents and not by staff. That is the main philosophy in this home for
retarded children. [Female staff member assisting boys with washing up:] You’re all nice and clean. You can go put your shirt on. Hal, stop that running! And get washed up. [Music] [Narrator:] A semblance of home, a feeling
of humans. [Male:] Who would like to say the prayer tonight?
Kent, you? [Kent:] Our dear heavenly Father, we thank
for the food, we thank for this day, and thank for school.
Amen. [Narrator:] Though many of these children
should not be in an institution of any kind, because of family situations or a lack of
available community services, there is little else for them anywhere, if
not here. [Male teacher with students in a store:] Are you excited? [Children:] Yeah! [Male:] You must be on your best behavior. You may spend all of our allowance or just
part of your allowance. Do you understand, Gary? [Children:] Yeah, yeah. [Male:] Let’s go. [Narrator:] A field trip, a chance to be a
part of the outside world. An institution can never really be a home. It can never really show enough personal concern,
but it can try. [Students, in unison:] Dear Mom and Dad. How are you? I am fine. We jumped on the trampoline today. I love
you very much. Love. [Teacher at front of classroom:] Good. Remember to write it very neatly so that we can read it, and if you want to add anything else to it,
you can, if you need help, then just raise your hand
and I’ll come and help you. [Music] [Narrator:] Days filled with experiences that
recognize limitations, but do not surrender to them. [Sherry:] Dear Mom and Dad. How are you? I am fine. We jumped on a trampoline today. I love you
very much. I don’t play with the same toys anymore. I’m
a big girl now. Love, Sherry. [Narrator:] For the large state institution
like this one, the problem of giving personal attention is
magnified by the crush of numbers. Overcrowded and understaffed, state facilities
for the retarded wait their turn for the trickle of tax funds that keeps them
going. Though the buildings now are often gleaming
and new, they must not be taken in themselves for symbols
of enlightenment. What happens inside this modern packaging
must be the key. The days of lives spent here can easily regress into the same meaningless noise and agony
of the not-too-distant past, unless there are programs instead of herd
care, and trained professionals to make the programs
work. [Music] [Narrator:] Many of the retarded in state
institutions are more physically handicapped than those
found in private facilities. So it is with Rodney Perry, age 5. Rodney has been fitted with braces and hopefully
will be taught to walk. [Nurse:] How does that feel, Rodney? Does it feel okay? [Rodney:] Yeah. [Nurse:] Okay, let’s get you down on the floor and see how you walk today. [Narrator:] He has what he calls a hook for
a left arm and he is incontinent, unable to control his bowels and bladder, but as if these other defects were not enough, Rodney is also hydrocephalic. His head his enlarged by increased pressure
of spinal fluid, and it is this hydrocephalus that first marked
him as possibly retarded. A valve has been surgically implanted in his
skull by a specialist, relieving much of the pressure, and now Rodney is free to explore his world
as best he can. [Music] [Narrator:] The world of the motor-handicapped ward is most often seen from a wheelchair. Jakie Leonard sees it from a special Scoot-About every morning when he has the run of the building. [Nurse helping Jakie:] Are you comfortable? All right Jake, off you go. [Sounds of wheels rolling along as Jake scoots down the hall.] [Narrator:] A standing table is another vantage
point for children who are not strong enough to support themselves
independently. [Music] [Narrator:] Standing tables are often better
than mats on the floor, though stretching and rolling on a mat is
more pleasant by far than endless hours of tedium in bed. [Female teacher :] All right, Rodney, put all the beads back. [Rodney:] Okay. [Narrator:] For those who show some academic
ability, there are classes. [Teacher:] Count again, one at a time, count,
let’s count. [Rodney:] One, two, three. [Music] [Narrator:] For all the children, there is
self-help training. [Music] [Nurse:] Oh, you can do better than that, Claude. That’s my boy, now you’re moving. [Music] [Nurse:] Very well, now I’d like to listen
to your heart, okay? [Narrator:] Rodney Perry is about to leave
the special world of the motor- handicapped ward. [Teacher:] I think that he could probably be
in a Headstart Program, or in a kindergarten for motor-handicapped
children. He has a lot of potential. [Nurse:] I hate to see him go. He is such a favorite of everyone here and
it’s so nice working with him. [Narrator:] The institution’s staff has watched
Rodney. They know him. He’s not lost in the herd. [Teacher:] He can just soak up the things that other children can’t. He really needs to be exposed to a lot of things. [Nurse:] And in just a month, I’ve taught
him how to walk and use his crutches and he, now he walks
alone without any help at all. [Female: administrator] Our family care social worker will be stopping in from time to time to see how you and Rodney are getting along. [Foster mother:] Is this who I get in touch
with if I should have any problems with Rodney? [Narrator] Rodney is being placed in a foster home and he will have a mother instead of an attendant. [Music] [Narrator:] For Rodney Perry, age 5, life is about to become one big continual
field trip. [Music] [Child crying] [Narrator:] Life for the blind, retarded child
defies description. [Crying and sounds of frustration] [Nurse:] Kathy? Kathy? You want some water? [Narrator:] To overcome paralyzing fear of
the unknown. [Nurse:] Can you find the window? [Narrator:] To stimulate independence, curiosity,
and freedom of movement is a prime goal. [Nurse:] Now, come on over this way. Can you
find something else? [Boy:] Yeah. [Nurse:] What? [Boy:] A pillow. [Nurse:] Good. That’s a good boy, Georgie.
You’re walking. [Narrator:] To learn to walk, no small task for a non-retarded blind child, doubly difficult for the retarded blind who have trouble grasping the concepts of
up and down, left and right. [Boy:] I can find them all. That’s a boy. [Narrator:] In so many ways, blind retarded
children must learn to come to grips with a world they cannot see, must learn to cope with a world that intrudes
on their privacy, makes demands on their behavior, and often seems hostile. [Nurse:] A pretty girl like you shouldn’t hurt themselves. [Female teacher, outdoors:] Come on, come on down here and ring that bell. [Boy:] Bell? [Teacher:] Yes. [Narrator:] A program with goals, involvement
in meaningful activities, not just passing the time. [Female:] Come on down here ring the bell. Come on. Find this bell and ring it now, ring it. That’s a boy, now come on let’s go back. [Narrator:] The children must be taught to
control their own lives, to attain the simple dignities like feeding themselves. Of immeasurable value is the privilege of
deciding how quickly food is delivered to your mouth, how far the spoon is jammed, and even what is on the spoon. [Nurse:] This is Mrs. Henry. This is Gary’s hair. [Narrator:] Progress, though often slow, is
sometimes most dramatic. Like the case of this 14-year-old, Gary Cobb. [Nurse:] This is Gary. Gary. [Narrator:] Spoon-fed, diaper-wearing, crib-case, the product of a caretaker custodial program
at another institution, Gary has been here only one year. In that short time, he’s been toilet-trained, has learned to walk, to feed himself, and to come when his name is called. [Boy in a wheelchair:] Gary, Gary come on, we’re singing in the day room. Come on, Gary. Count your many blessings, name them one by
one, And you will discover what the Lord has
done. Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And you will discover what the Lord has
done. Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God has done; Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God has
done; [All singing “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles] [Narrator:] Not yet a participant in the society
in which he lives, Gary now knows it is there. He has at least made a beginning. [All singing “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles] [Music] [Narrator:] Here in the infirmary live the
more severely and profoundly retarded, those who need 24-hour a day medical care. Creative cosmetic surgery and orthopedic and
dental surgery have made life somewhat more bearable for
those who live here. [Music] [Narrator:] But life in the infirmary at even
the most advanced institutions is at best a holding action. [Music] From somewhere in the community, volunteer workers must be found so that a child can experience an extra moment of personal attention. Liberal visiting privileges have gone far
to improve this part of the institution, especially when there’s a visiting room that
offers some privacy and a momentary respite from the noise of
the ward. [Female:] You want Daddy to read you a story? [Male:] Once upon a time, there was a little
girl, just like you. Her name was Alice. [Male:] Are there cars coming from the right? [All:] No! [Male:] Are there cars coming from the left? [All:] No! [Male:] Are you sure? [All:] Yeah! [Male:] All right then, come on. [Music] [Narrator:] The more moderately or mildly
retarded children are the most likely candidates for placement back out in the community. Many of them are here because they are orphaned or because their retardation has caused some
behavioral problems. For these children, the institution’s main
task is to prepare them to cope with the demands of the real world and not just the systematized
existence of the institution. [Teacher:] This is a hand. What is this? [All:] Bat [Teacher:] A bat. [Narrator:] The first step is language development. [Teacher:] This is a bowl. What is this? This is a bed, good Chris. What is this? Boy: A bed! [Narrator:] Too often, the retarded child does not understand what he is told and cannot express what he feels. [Children are shouting answers not fully intelligible.] [Therapist:] Jimmy, I want you to spell your name. [Narrator:] A full staff of therapists focuses
in on each individual child. [Jimmy is slowing typing out letters.] [Therapist:] Very good, Jimmy. [Therapist:] What is your name? My name is Vicki Spencer. I am 5 years… [Vicki Spencer:] Old. [Therapist:] Very nice. [Therapist:] All right Charlie, here we go. Up, you pick it up. [Narrator:] And in classrooms, an awareness of the world becomes a part of the child’s life. [Teacher and students:] They jumped into the water and went splash, splash, splash. Their mother was calling them quack, quack,
quack. So the ten little ducks just swam right back. [Narrator:] And of course there are field
trips to get out into the bigger world… to see it, to touch it, and for a few hours,
become a part of it. [Music] [Narrator:] Most retarded children can benefit
more by being out in the community than by being put away in the artificial ward
societies of the institution. But if more of them are to be returned to
the community, there must first be a proper climate of acceptance. [Music] [Narrator:] Perhaps in the years that lie
ahead, this will come about. There was a time when society hid its mentally
retarded, abandoned them as if in a dumping ground. [Music] [Narrator:] Today, in a few places, in a few
institutions, there is the beginning of a new attitude toward
the retarded and a new definition of the institution’s
purpose, and because of this, a few of the retarded
are being helped to find a way out of the wilderness. [Music]

8 thoughts on “A Way out of the Wilderness (U.S. Rehabilitation Services Admin., 1968)”

  1. When I was naked you clothed me. When I was hungry you fed me. When was terrified and unable to care for myself you comforted me and taught me to care for myself.

    When did we ever do this for you Lord?

    When you did this for the least of my children.


    "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities:: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5! HEALED! Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually! HALLELUJAH!

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