Date of this Version
Published in Palaestra 10:2 (1994), pp. 32–42.
Movement of persons with mental retardation out of institutions and into community settings is occurring at an ever-increasing pace (Amado, Lakin, & Menke, 1990). State and federal laws have legitimized the basic rights of persons with mental retardation to live, work, and participate in typical community settings. Yet, physical integration is not synonymous with full community inclusion. Numerous barriers remain that serve as obstacles to successful assimilation into community life. For instance, successful social integration depends on attitudinal changes of persons without mental retardation—families, friends, service-delivery professionals, and the general public—toward persons with mental retardation. The way young adults with mental retardation are perceived by others often restricts their opportunities for participation in activities that allow for development of social relationships, enhancement of self-esteem, and enjoyment of life. Removal of such barriers requires that they first be identified. Action plans and strategies can then be developed to remove, or at the least minimize, effects upon the quality-of-life experienced by this segment of the population.