Conrad Simon Memorial Research Initiative: Social Responsibility

Social Responsibility

Working papers Viewpoint on the brain disorder(2003) (View in 2000)
and notes: The auditory system The inferior colliculus Hemoglobin & the brain
Concepts of autism Autism spectrum Social responsibility


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Conrad Simon Memorial Research Initiative
Posted:  April 24, 2000 08:02 PM

© Copyright 1999-2003
Eileen Nicole Simon

picture of Conrad
Conrad with mom and his favorite flag

Many of the old state schools and mental hospitals have been closed in favor of "mainstreaming" mentally impaired people in the community. This is not working. Community Group homes have become the snake pits that the old institutions once were. Group homes are run by private contractors who hire staff at minimum wage levels without health insurance or benefits such as assistance for continuing education. Most group home staff work two jobs to make ends meet, and staff turnover is high for obvious reasons.

Even so there are long waiting lists for placement in group homes. A comment made by one social worker at a recent legislative hearing was that nothing can be done in many cases until the parents become too old and debilitated or die. Under funding for group homes leads to placement primarily on an emergency basis.

The old institutions were intended as "asylums" from the mainstream of society. In the late nineteenth century when they were built, epidemics of pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other then untreatable illnesses took care of discharge planning. Now many more mentally impaired people, including those who develop conditions like Alzheimer's dementia are dependent on society for care.


Protests against funding of special education are often heard, because it drains funds for education of the larger majority of normally developing children. When special education ends at age 22, too many of those on waiting lists for mental health services come to the attention of the police and even serve time in prison. I have personally witnessed this where I work, in the state hospital for mentally ill prison inmates in Massachusetts - many cases of Asperger syndrome, but even more severe developmentally disabled individuals with echolalic language, stereotyped mannerisms and other signs of autistic disorder. Clearly society must come up with a better solution.

All possibilities need to be considered. Perhaps Social Security should be abolished and replaced by mandatory long-term care insurance for every child born. This should be workable in the same way that automobile insurance is required. Would anyone want the Federal government to insure automobiles? Isn't private insurance the American answer to socialism?

Apology: I have been contacted by a few people who work in group homes, and have stayed with a particular house for many years. I hope more people will take this kind of work on as a career. It is interesting, and long-term staff at a house get to know the residents and their families very well. I was very angry when I setup this website and wrote this note about what happened to Conrad. I am still angry, but apologize to those who have made long-term commitments to their work in group homes.

References

Belcher JR (1989) Are jails replacing the mental health system for the homeless mentally ill? Community Mental Health Journal 24:185-195.

Jemelka R, Trupin E, Chiles JA (1989) The mentally ill in prisons: a review. Hospital and Community Psychiatry 40:481-496.

Thorburn KM (1989) The corrections department: the forgotten branch of the mental health system. Hawaii Medical Journal 48:91-92.


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Conrad Simon
Pictures (Conrad and his brothers)
Traumatic birth
Death in a group home

© Copyright 1999-2007
Eileen Nicole Simon

Conrad Simon Memorial Research Initiative