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Parental Advocacy and the Changing Attitudes Towards Down syndrome in Post-war Britain

By Sophie George

This article is based on a wider dissertation on ‘The Changing Attitudes Towards Down syndrome in Post War Britain’ written in 2019. It discusses the role of parental advocacy as a force for evolutionary change towards the inclusion of people with Down syndrome in post war Britain. I will therefore be focusing on the movements towards integrated education and the process of de-institutionalisation, as well as commenting on the introduction of the pre-natal test and its effects on the parental community.  At the start of the post war era, most children with Down syndrome were transferred to institutions and many were deemed ‘uneducable’. With the help of the parental movement, institutions were improved, community living was becoming a reality and education for people with intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome was more accessible and integrated. Whilst the parental movement helped change attitudes towards Down syndrome, it was not revolutionary and represents a …