Mentally Retarded Children

March 28, 1962

Report Outline
Broadening Attack on Child Subnormality
Search for Means of Prevention
Education for the Mentally Retarded
Special Focus

Broadening Attack on Child Subnormality

The concern felt by President Kennedy for the welfare of persons born with mental handicaps, evidenced by his appointment of a special presidential panel on mental retardation, has given strong impetus to current planning for a broad-scale attack on this long-neglected problem. The President's concern is shared by the whole Kennedy family; one of its members, the President's sister Rosemary, suffered from cerebral palsy as a child. The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Memorial Foundation, set up by the President's parents in 1946, has made large grants for studies of congenital mental defects and means of dealing with them.

Parents of mentally deficient children no longer conceal their misfortune or accept it as beyond alleviation. Increasingly within the past decade the retarded child has been drawn out of “the shadows of shame and hopelessness” to be given a chance to develop such latent capacities as he may possess. Large sums from both public and private sources are now being spent to better the lot of the mentally retarded. New facilities are being built and new teaching methods developed. Scientists from many fields are joining in studies and experiments which hold promise of preventing some forms of congenital mental disability and of mitigating others.

President's Panel on Mental Retardation

In one of President Kennedy's earliest special messages (Feb. 9, 1961), the attention of Congress was directed to the plight of hundreds of thousands of American children born each year with crippling defects. The message asked legislation to establish, within the U.S. Public Health Service, a National Institute for Child Health and Human Development which would serve as a center for research on the full span of the life process. Light would thus be thrown on the origins of birth defects which cripple their victims both physically and mentally. Lack of action at the 1961 session of Congress led the President to repeat his recommendation in a special message, Feb. 27, 1962, on the genera] problem of health care for the old and the young.

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Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
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Mental Health
People with Mental Disabilities
Special Education