YouTube channel Facebook account
česká verze


Issues » 2013/1 - Deinstitucionalisation of Social Services »

Jitka Nelb Sinecká

Looking over the Wall: Deinstitutionalization of People with Autism during Communism and after 1989 in Parental Narratives


During communism, people labeled with mental disabilities including those with autism were sent to large institutions. Five families with children and young adults with autism shared their stories and experiences with institutionalization in the past and deinstitutionalization after 1989. Using narrative analysis of interviews with mothers, I interpreted their personal accounts and memories to portray the struggles and success stories on issues like diagnosing children with autism, state support and services, life in institutions, bringing up their children at home, media coverage of institutions, deinstitutionalization, and alternatives to large institutions. Borrowing from the theory of structure and agency, I depicted how the power-holders often constructed and constricted their children’s and theirs agency through labeling and presuming incompetence and dependency. Peeping over the walls of large social care homes, I found similarities to total asylums described by Goffman more than 50 years ago. However, current small-size supported homes are far from an ideal. They also present characteristics of what could be called micro-institutions. The goal of this article is not to criticize large institutions but to critically asses the advantages and disadvantages of both former and current institutions for people with disabilities.


institutions, total asylums, autisms, communism, deinstitucionalization, family narratives

Related papers

Akademické články This is better than a nursing home. Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Constructing and constraining agency of people labelled with developmental disabilities in a supported living scheme
Akademické články Institutionalization as a Barrier to Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities
Akademické články The Individualization of Care Provided in Medical Organization for Children up to Three Years and Factors of Organizational Culture which Can Affect This Principle
Akademické články Community Planning as a Way of Life Projects Supporting
Akademické články Research Accounts of Female Drug Use and their Implications for Social Work

© 2014, Czech and Slovak Social Work | counter: [CNW:Counter] | … administration