26 April 2019

26th April 1848 - first learning disability institution opened


On 26th April 1848 The Highgate Asylum for Idiots was opened with its first 8 patients . This was England's first formal institution for people with learning disabilities and was sponsored by some benevolent people, including royalty. It was a charitable organisation that cared for and educated those with learning disabilities especially those of early years. It was intended as a school and as a refuge to prepare students as far as is able for the duties and enjoyment of life.

In an article in the  Illustrated London News they trace some of the perceived causes of learning disabilities from case notes. One child is from a family of thirteen children, the other twelve died from a similar condition. It says that it is sad that some cases have been caused by the bad practice of servants frightening children. The rattling of curtains, and stalking of sheet ghosts to frighten children into obedience can produce great damage, and are to be condemned. Others have been caused by nurses drugging their charges with Godfrey's Cordial and other narcotics.

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive for the details.

Thankyou to the Royal Earlswoood Hospital - A Historical Sketch for the date.

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