History of Developmental Services

The first instance of classroom instruction for children with a developmental disability dates to 1887 at the Orillia Asylum for Idiots. The superintendent of the facility set aside a room to serve as a classroom and hired two teachers to teach eligible children.

Classroom instruction was generally only available for children with milder disabilities. Institutions used several ways to assess whether a child would benefit from classroom instruction. One way was to assess the child's mental age. Mental age was the developmental age at which the child was deemed to function.

Upon admission to a facility, children were assessed and assigned a developmental level. Depending on the level at which they were assessed, children would be assigned to classroom instruction or to a ward school.

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