On July 26, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Modeled after civil rights legislation, this law protects the rights of individuals with physical and/or mental impairment and ensures equal opportunity and access to both public and private facilities and services. Its only been 30 years since the rights of individuals with disabilities have been guaranteed by our government. If you think about it, that is not a long time. What did it look like to have a child with special needs, pre-ADA?
In 1976, a 2.5-year-old was injured in a car accident in which he was ejected from the vehicle and struck his head on concrete. For the next six weeks he was comatose and when he did regain consciousness, it became apparent that he had suffered permanent physical and intellectual deficits. His parents were given a choice of having him treated in a facility or caring for him at home. His parents took him home. Privately, they arranged occupational and physical therapists, paid for by insurance, and he regained some mobility and intellectual skills.