More On Institutions

Alexa Ura and Corrie MacLaggan, The Texas Tribune - June 3, 2014

There’s one thing that I’m sure is a factor in the ongoing debate over institutionalization and other more “sheltered” service models. People become personally invested in justifying positions that make their own choices look better. Parents of disabled children who have chosen institutionalization may have some good reasons for concern about the move away from large institutions, but I’m sure it’s also hard to hear again and again how fundamentally wrong the the entire approach is … the approach they at some point chose for their son or daughter, thinking (and hoping) it was the best. It’s hard enough to admit you have been wrong about something for years. It’s got to be especially awful to digest the possibility that a choice like this might have been tragically, horrifically wrong.

I’m not sure there’s an equivalent motivation on the other side. Yes, those of us who favor the end of institutions and segregated services feel personally about it. Some of us have been in such programs ourselves, and broader approval of our choice to leave bolsters our confidence that we made the right decision. Those of us who are disabled but have never been in more restrictive programs see others like us living such radically different lives, and we personally fear that we could end up there at any time, unless such places are phased out and closed for all time. I don’t think the self-justification motive is as strong with us, though, than it is for the pro-institutional “side”.

The other problem is that it's almost impossible in traditional journalism to deal with the more complex reasons why otherwise reasonable individuals support models that most people, on some level, feel are at best grossly out of date, and at worst cruel and corrupt.

In case you missed them, check out some other recent posts about institutionalization: