Community of Sant'Egidio
The mentally disabled
Friends without limits
Community of Sant'Egidio

The Friends

The mentally disabled
in the world
The more industrialised countries
Poor countries
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The more industrialised countries

France
France

In the more industrialised countries such as in Western Europe and North America schooling as well as measures for rehabilitation or housing and granting subsidies are the most important aspects of a positive policy towards those who are disabled.
Schooling for the mentally disabled is now a principle laid down in the legislation of many of these countries even it is implemented in different ways.
In France for example, the mentally disabled are either taught at home or sent to an institute or specialised centre. In Germany insertion into a “special school” (selected according to the type of disability) is compulsory for all those with mental or psychical problems.
In Italy the legislation provides for the integration of the disabled into ordinary schools They are either inserted into a class or have the support of a specialised teacher.

It is a known fact that many families still find difficulties on account of the architectural barriers, the lack of specialised support staff and a didactic program which is “personalised” and which takes into account the specific requirements of each person.

In any case the integration into a school for a child with a disability is a very important experience. Apart from the doubtless value of cognitive learning, it represents a considerable stimulus towards socialisation and relations with others.

Germany
Germany

Becoming adult often marks the end of any rehabilitative intervention or integration even if many disabled people still want to learn new things, to become, as far as possible, independent in daily life, to be together with others.
Once adult the difference with others of the same age becomes more noticeable. The lack of work, for example, makes the daily life of the disabled person very difficult: they are conscious of being adult but feel they are not fully so for society.

Germany
Germany

Work is an ambition for many disabled people who want to catch up with the others, to feel themselves useful, to be able to give a contribution to society. But to be inserted into the world of work is still too difficult even in rich countries.
The future is uncertain for those who remain alone and an Institute seems to be the most common solution.

If in the seventies and eighties many Western countries were critical of the idea of putting disabled people into Institutes and developed new initiatives (foyers, family communities, sheltered residences), today unfortunately there is a return to the Institute as the simplest and most practical solution.
In Germany adult mentally disabled people are inserted into structures called “specialised factories” where they do simple jobs such as assembling parts. Every factory can employ from three to four hundred disabled people who return home only in the evening.
These factories are new places of “custody” which are as much a ghetto as is a traditional institute.