History of Developmental Services

The years following the Second World War saw an evolution of new concepts and new attitudes towards people with disabilities.

Medical and technological advances to rehabilitate wounded war veterans eventually led to new programs for people with physical disabilities. By the late 1960s, programs were being developed to help people with other kinds of disabilities, including people with a developmental disability.

At this time, increasing public awareness of disabilities also promoted the need to develop additional treatment methods and services for individuals with a developmental disability, who were still seen as patients requiring medical care.

Ontario passed the Rehabilitative Services Act in 1955. This legislation, which was the first of its kind in Canada, provided for a full range of rehabilitation services to improve the quality of life for people with physical and/or developmental disabilities.

In the two decades that followed, leading up to the passing of the Developmental Services Act in 1974, more and more programs and services were developed in facilities to help residents with daily living. This shift set the stage for a new approach to services for people with a developmental disability, as they were no longer treated as patients, but rather were provided with residential care in order to enable them to maximize their potential.

Here are some examples of the services that were offered in facilities:

Clinical services: orthopaedics, immunology, optometry, laboratory services, pharmaceutical services, nutrition, psychiatry, neurology, dental, therapeutic seating systems, kinesiology, weight management

Leisure/recreational: aquatics program, camping, social therapy workshops, Special Olympics

Vocational/training: livestock program, training on the job, sheltered workshops, recycling programs, vegetable farm and greenhouse programs, general life skills

Other services: music therapy, adult learning centres, applied behavioural analysis, augmentative communication, quality of life leisure activities, sensory stimulation

Doctors and other health care professionals also received more training in the field of developmental disabilities.