Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Spastic Home

As my mother and I wandered through an antique store, she chattered away about people I had long forgotten and many I had never known. My brain stumbled over her words as she mentioned someone who had lived out their days at The Spastic Home. I stopped her to ask if that was its real, official name. She said she thought so and I thought, "wow."

Since she had mentioned it, I well remembered the place--in today's jargon it would be called, "The Home for the Disabled" or something along that line. I suppose I haven't seen anyone with that type of physical disability for many years; I don't know why and I have to wonder. Where are those people with spastic limbs, some disconnect between brain and body? Are they hidden away, or simply no more due to medical advances or abortion or better nutrition and prenatal care? I suppose there are studies that would tell me the answer.

When I googled 'Owensboro' and 'The Spastic Home,' I didn't get much back. There were two or three references to the facility, but nothing official and lots of other mentions of people calling their pets or themselves "spastic." When I was a kid, the term was used in a derogatory manner by children and teens to disparage their friends and enemies, somewhat along the same line as "retard." I haven't heard it used in that way for many years.

When I was in junior high, there was a boy in the special education class with an enlarged head. His name was John. He was severely disabled; looking back, it seems amazing that he was even alive. He was probably the age of a sixth grader at that time. I have a vivid memory of looking out of my class window and watching as some other students encouraged him to do a crazy dance, Jed Clampett style. I remember, too, that he didn't live out junior high.

For whatever reason I rarely encounter folks today with disabilities such as these; they have disappeared or are hidden. They aren't forgotten, though.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Hi! I went to Kentucky Wesleyan in 1972-1973 and worked as a volunteer at "The Spastic Home". I Many of the children there had cerebral palsy. I think these children are mainstreamed more today or at least in special education classes in the public schools. If the home still exists I'm sure it has a more PC name. Does the world's larges sassafras tree still grow on Frederica?