This deeply troubling yet inspiring memoir recounts the appalling abuse of people with intellectual disabilities and the anguish of their families. When Sharon Flanagan-Hyde’s sister, Mary Jean, was diagnosed with severe mental retardation in 1962, doctors said to put defective children in an institution and forget they were ever born.
Mary Jean was sent away as a toddler, but she was not forgotten. Decades of witnessing maltreatment and horrific conditions at Belchertown State School devastated the entire family. Mary Jean finally found a safe home, but shocking neglect and abuse continue throughout the United States.
In her role as a consultant, Sharon was asked by the Arizona Governor’s Office to facilitate a task force convened in the aftermath of the shocking rape of a severely incapacitated young woman and unexpected birth of her baby boy at Hacienda HealthCare, a Phoenix intermediate care facility.
This book calls for public policy changes to ensure safe and compassionate care for all vulnerable people.
“This is a compelling memoir about a family’s losing struggle to find normalcy after the commitment of an intellectually disabled child at an early age to a notorious institution — Belchertown State School. Written from the unique perspective of the child’s sister, it shows how the well-being of the one was inextricably linked to that of the other. The author’s decades-long journey from anxiety to equilibrium, and the parallel journey of her disabled sister, is told in no-nonsense prose with sensitivity, compassion, and commitment. I was deeply moved.”
— Robert Hornick, author of The Girls and Boys of Belchertown: A Social History of the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded
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