Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Carsten’s journey to Sonoma Developmental Center

By Ana Mettler

About the author: Ms. Mettler is Carsten's mother. She tells the story of her son's long journey to Sonoma Developmental Center in Northern California. His journey involves a very successful "inclusive" educational experience to a sad saga of one failed group home placement after another, including several incarcerations. This long journey led Carsten to Sonoma, where it seems he is now on the road to happiness.

I have always been a fervent advocate of the concept of “Inclusion.”

When my son Carsten was middle school age I became very active towards having him included inCarstens_Story the same (very unique) school my other two children were attending. I felt that as a family it was important to share the same school experience.

It took a lot of convincing and sharing of information about the benefits of inclusion, but finally it became a reality. Carsten spent many fabulous years at this school, the “Open School.” He participated in trips to New Mexico and Mississippi, he took yoga classes, art classes, music, woodworking, cooking, etc. He apprenticed in the school cafeteria and then he worked in a city cafeteria, independently taking the public bus. 

In the year he was graduating, however, Carsten started to experience an increasing number of outbursts. Life with him at home became precarious and barely manageable for me.

"I Found You!"

By Emily McDonough


About the Author: Ms. McDonough is a volunteer at Fernald Developmental Center in Waltham, Massachusetts. She wrote about her experience as a Fernald volunteer in college application essay.

Hide-and-seek is a game in which the searcher’s goal is to find another individual hidden in an unknown location. This can be seen as a simple, but yet still challenging task. However, one should ask herself: “How much more challenging would the game be without knowing who or what one is seeking?” This is another version of ‘the game’— ‘the game’ of searching for one’s future calling. From my personal experience, I was not aware that my calling was hidden in my community service.

My service of volunteering at the Fernald Center in Waltham, Massachusetts, the oldest residential facility for the mentally retarded in the country, is what I consider to be the location which my calling chose as a ‘hiding spot’. After discovering this spot, the doors to my future opened.

John Henry's Story

By June Peach, Louisiana

Our son has been successful because of a 10 year period he lived in a large facility and because he works daily in a large facility now while living at home.  He is now 47.   Here is his story:

Frank David's Story


By Linda Selman

I am the mother of an autistic and mentally retarded son, Frank David Selman. At twenty-four, Frank David is one of the thousands of developmentally disabled adults living in this nation's Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICFs/MR). Although they make up only a small percentage of America's population, all their stories are important, but I can tell only one. Here is Frank David's. (First presented to the Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA).

FDMomDad     FDBrotherSisterLaw

Frank David with Mom (Linda) and Dad (Frank)                         Frank David with Brother (Rushton) and Sister-in-Law (Tabitha)

Fernald Fighters

   "I came to Fernald to help these residents out, and in the end, it was those who could not speak who helped me learn so much about myself."

By Laura Marmion

LauraMAs a young girl I didn’t know much about the Fernald Center; a massive state-owned property for mentally handicapped adults in the heart of my town, Waltham, MA.  All I knew was it was a ten minute walk from my house, they had a soccer field my team always practiced on, and great hills for sledding. Little did I know, I would grow to learn more about the Fernald Center and its people than I ever would have imagined I would.  

All about Anne Golden

Submitted by Sam Golden
Anne was the third of our four children. The first two were Daniel and Jonathan, born, respectively inh 1951 and 1954. She was born on April 7, 1956, so she is now fifty years old. Our first two children were boys and, after our experiences with Anne we decided to have another child and our daughter Miriam came along in 1960.
We lived in two different apartments in Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago, when our boys were born. With Anne we acquired a small house in a development further south in Chicago. Anne had problems from the start. She was very small and she developed severe seizures early on.
We took her to our pediatrician and he recommended a pediatric neurologist. This turned out badly- they performed a procedure on her (pneumoencephologram) which caused more seizures and arrested her development further. Thereafter we vowed not to go for any faddish procedures but take Anne as she was and do our best.