* Presidents and Americans with Disabilities

Thankful for the leadership and advocacy of untold numbers of parents, teachers, and students. These pieces of legislation form the foundation of support for special needs kids.

All About Autism

In honor of President’s Day, I decided to reflect on some of the Presidents who played a significant role in improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Up until the 60s, most families were ashamed to admit that they had a child with a disability. President John F. Kennedy’s sister Rosemary, who had intellectual disabilities, served as an impetus for the President’s push to establish the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation in 1961.

The Presidents Panel on Mental Retardation, 1961 The President’s Panel on Mental Retardation, 1961

Comprised of 27 members, the panel reviewed the country’s current intellectual disabilities programs, eventually presenting the President with over 100 recommendations for the first comprehensive federal approach. Dr. Gertrude Barber, our founder, was a member of this panel.

A year later, President Kennedy signed the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendment, which incorporated many of the panel’s recommendations and provided planning grants to enable states…

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