Developmental Disabilities in the 1800′s

At the beginning of the 1800′s, science began attempting to replace religion. Society was encouraged to view the world scientifically, and communities began to hospitalize and medically treat the intellectually and developmentally disabled. The early medical practices towards the disabled were by no means satisfactory and led to several new humiliating experiments and malpractices. Although flawed, this was the first step towards change and a view that developmental disabilities could potentially be a manageable disease rather than a sin.

Developmental disabilities were less looked at as a sin, yet it was still considered to be genetic. Standard thought of the period viewed disabilities as the root of almost all social evils, including alcoholism, prostitution, poverty and violent crimes. For this reason, disabled people, especially those labeled as mentally retarded were sterilized, usually forcefully, in an attempt to control the spreading of disabilities from one generation to the next.

The modern book of the time, called “The Almosts: the Study of the Feeble-Minded,” referred to disabled individuals as “almost human.” In spite of this disgraceful term, the book was instrumental in understanding the condition of the developmentally disabled and trying to provide them with medical treatment. Mental hospitals, also then referred to as “Institutions for Idiots,” were established throughout the United States; one of the first being in Massachusetts in the year 1848. Unlike earlier institutes, where the disabled were humiliated and mocked, the hospitals in the early and mid-1800′s showcased empathy and respect towards the developmentally disabled and mentally retarded patients. It was believed that with the correct approach, disabled people could be trained to take care of themselves and that their disabilities could be managed considerably. For the first time in 1878, Down’s Syndrome was recognized and treated as a separate disability. Studied by Dr. John Langdon Down at the Royal Asylum for Idiots in England, he termed people afflicted by Down’s Syndrome as “Mongoloid Idiots” or “Mongols”. A hospital for epilepsy was created in Ohio in 1878 and the “State Asylum for Unteachable Idiots” was created in New York in the same year. It is evident that terms such as “feeble-minded”, “idiots” and “unteachable idiots” was commonly used to refer to developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals.

While the 1800′s started out as a promising time for the disabled, the treatment and care at hospitals and institutes rapidly degraded and worsened. As an attempt to study severe developmental disabilities were made, the optimism that disabled people could be treated and cured waned. By the late 1800′s, it was widely believed that no proper treatment existed for the disabled and such people were again subjected to ridicule and abuse. Institutes turned into asylums for the mentally retarded; the only place they could find shelter in but also a place where they were mistreated and humiliated. Often the disabled were chained to their beds all day in these asylums and any medical treatment they were initially provided, was soon given up on.

Bobby Harris is a driven, experienced and knowledgeable professional within areas such as healthcare, childhood education,abuse intervention and crisis prevention; organizational leadership and intellectual / developmental disabilities.

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Oral Health and Diabetes – The Importance Of Having Healthy Teeth And Gums With Diabetes Type 2

It is important for people living with type 2 diabetes to pay attention to all aspects of their health and wellbeing.

Here is an aspect of taking care of yourself to live powerfully with type 2 diabetes. It is taking care of your oral health.

Recent studies have shown an increased risk between poor oral health and heart disease.

The risk for heart disease increases even more when you have poor oral health and type 2 diabetes.

This is because diabetes already puts you at twice the risk of heart disease than the general population. So when you add poor oral health to the mix you more than double your risk.

The mouth has thousands of different bacteria, fungi and viruses. Normally with proper oral hygiene and well-functioning salivary glands, these do not cause any problems.

However when the mouth becomes unhealthy due to poor oral health then a number of dental problems can set in.

The most common teeth and gum problems associated with type 2 diabetes are:

tooth decay
gum disease
altered taste
fungal infections commonly called oral thrush
dry mouth
Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to tooth decay and gum disease

When blood sugar levels are not well controlled, this leads to hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can cause bacteria and fungi to thrive in the saliva. This leads to the development of plaque.

Plaque is a hard material that builds up in the mouth. It attaches to the surface and in between the teeth. It can also collect beneath the gum line. When this happens, the gums become inflamed. This is called periodontal disease.

People who do not have well controlled diabetes are at risk for periodontal disease. Eventually, the gum disease becomes so bad that they lose their teeth.

Here are some signs of periodontal disease. If you have any of these signs then see a dentist as soon as possible.

gums that bleed easily
red swollen and painful gums
bad breath
bad taste
pus in between teeth or when the gums are pressed
gums that have been pulled away from the teeth
Diabetes can also cause fungal infections

The mouth naturally has thousands of species of bacteria, viruses and fungi. The good thing is that the bodies natural defense system keeps them all in check so that they do not cause any problems.

Oral thrush is a fungal infection that can occur in people with type 2 diabetes.

There are several reasons why you can get fungal infections:

Wearing dentures
Cigarette smoking
Dry mouth
How to reduce dental problems

Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush. You can also use a electric toothbrush.
Floss between your teeth at least once a day
Change your toothbrush at least every 3 months
Disinfect your toothbrush regularly. You can place it in a microwave or a dishwasher.
Use an antimicrobial mouthwash
Use a toothpaste that has fluoride
Watch for any signs of dental problems and tell your dentist
Quit smoking
Drink water regularly to keep the mouth moist
A dash of 100% peppermint essential oil in water is a great natural breath freshener.
See your dentist regularly

Schedule an appointment twice a year to see your dentist.
If you have any sores or pain in your mouth be sure to let your dentist know.
Let your dentist know if your blood sugars levels are out of control.
Also let your dentist know if there is any change in your medical history.
Do not take any oral medications that could lower your blood sugar before seeing the dentist.
If you are going to have dental work done and you are taking a blood thinner, be sure to let your dentist know this. The dentist will probably want to get a medical clearance from your primary healthcare provider.
So take the time to make sure that you pay attention to the health of your mouth. That way you will not go through the pain from lost teeth.

Let’s face it dental care to replace lost teeth can be very costly. So why not invest in prevention and not a cure?

Take an active role to improve your oral health and diabetes.

Dr Eno Nsima-Obot is a board certified Internal Medicine as well as a tra

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