THE UNEXPECTED MINORITY: Handicapped Children in America by John & William Roth Gliedman
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THE UNEXPECTED MINORITY: Handicapped Children in America

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Of the books and background studies issued by the Carnegie Council on Children, this fifth and last work is the most likely to mobilize readers, for in documenting the shameful inadequacies of our treatment of handicapped children, it explores attitudes and overturns traditional views of handicap. Gliedman and Roth consider the handicapped an oppressed minority group, victims of severe discrimination in education and employment, deprived of dignity and identity as well as access. ""Of all America's oppressed groups, only the handicapped have been so fully disenfranchised in the name of health,"" they conclude. They fault society in general for seeing the handicapped as deviant--incomplete--and underestimating their abilities, and they indict the psychology/medicine/special education establishment (the service providers) for basic insufficiencies in theory and practice. For example, a handicapped child may be viewed, developmentally, as so many steps behind his able-bodied counterpart--as deficient and, by implication, inferior--when in fact (as studies like Fraiberg's Insights from the Blind have proven) the handicapped develop according to a healthy logic of their own and should not be characterized by what they are not. Instead, they need a developmental psychology of their own--intellectual development schemes that describe their abilities rather than their disabilities, personality development theories that accommodate their emotional realities, and service providers who support their strengths and don't restrict their futures. Gliedman and Roth, uncompromising in their advocacy, marshall an impressive array of material in presenting their case, from the cynical gamesmanship of handicapped children to disability economics and the psychological dimensions of medical care. In so doing, they provide a corrective to traditional ways of thinking about handicap as well as a bracing call for action.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1980
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich