Newsline Volume 34, Number 1

From the Executive Director

The Federation at Forty!

The Federation at Forty!! The beginning of the 2013-14 school year marks the beginning of the 40th year since the implementation of Massachusetts Chapter 766 (Special Education) began. With the new law came the birth of the Federation, a parent center to assist families in understanding its promise and their responsibilities. At the time, ideas around "normalization" and "integration" of individuals with disabilities that were first articulated in Scandinavia in the mid-1960's were being introduced in the U.S. In 1972, sociologist Wolf Wolfensberger discussed two types of integration - physical and social. He warned that physical proximity was not sufficient to guarantee social integration for individuals with disabilities and that both needed to occur simultaneously. Dr. Nirje (Denmark) and Gunnar Dybwad identified the processes needed for such integration to occur.

Mary E. Morningstar, University of Kansas has stated "When we think about these processes as it relates to students in school or the community, the first step is that individuals with disabilities have to be in the community. They have to be around other people in their neighborhoods, with their families, with friends in school. In that way-only then-will they interact in the community. These interactions and opportunities from being in the community allow for the potential, the option, for natural interactions to start occurring, which in turn leads to the establishment of relationships. Only then, will individuals with disabilities be fully participating as a citizen in their community".

Parents helped make it happen through high expectations. At first the discussion was about access to the school building. Then came full participation in school activities, followed by access to the general curriculum. Today it's all about high expectations for every child with a belief that every child can learn; that All means All.

This journey has been the lived history of the Federation over its 40 years. Tens of thousands of parents and families have gained information, resources and more importantly the courage to stand with their child with special needs to ensure they receive the best possible education. Forty years is really a short time to witness such monumental changes in society. We've really just begun our journey still!

Help us Celebrate 40 years and the wonderful things that have been accomplished.

Best wishes,

Rich signature

Rich Robison
Executive Director