Reducing Institution Use [PDF]

Out of the Institution Trap

John O’Brien

2005 This is a version of a chapter published in Kelley Johnson and Rannveig Traustadottir (Eds.) (2005). Deinstitutionalization and People with Intellectual Disabilities: In and Out of Institutions. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

The institution is a trap for people. Just getting out of the institution doesn’t mean getting out of the trap. People with disabilities can be kept apart from other people, treated as if they were less valuable than other people, and controlled by staff even in an ordinary house.

It does not have to be this way. People with disabilities and their allies have learned how to assist people to make choices, make valuable contributions, and participate in community life. To learn how to do these things people have to get out of the ways of being with each other and thinking about each other that keep them in the institution trap.

We have read about Tom Allen in each section of this book. Many bad things were done to Tom in the big and small institutions he lived in. He fought back and took as much freedom as he could, no matter how hard the institution tried to own his life. Tom’s story shows us ten ways to fight the institution trap.