The Delusion of Inclusion


First published my Facebook page 25th February 2017

The first posting appended is a comment from David Towell, a spokesperson  and former leading figure in the Kings Fund Centre around the late 1970s / 1980s when the action was taking place.


David Towell. Those of us who have taken the trouble to read many of Charles’s very many postings over the last 30 years will certainly know by now that he is forever stuck with the idea that a 1977 pamphlet from the NDG should remain, 40 years later, the peak of our aspirations for the daily lives of people with learning disabilities. Fortunately, many people working locally, like Lawraine and her network have demonstrated that a better world is possible for Lawraine’s daughter and indeed everyone who can find a similarly supportive network, despite the hugely damaging effects of ‘austerity’ on people who need the help of publicly funded services. (Actually that is all of us.) Meanwhile the highest authority the world has created in the defence of human rights, the United Nations, has generated international support for a Convention, the UNCRPD, which Charles would doubtless describe as based on ‘extreme normalisation/inclusion dogmas’ whatever that means: it’s not, it’s based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


My response the same day on Facebook (25th February 2017

‪Charles Henley‪ An interesting response, David, but you are a little out of date. In my book: LEARNING DISABILITIES The Rise and Potential Demise of Structured Day Services for Adults with Learning Disabilities 1955 – 2005, sent to you April 2007, you will find I covered the later Declaration of Rights (1975) fairly comprehensively.

What I mean by ‘extreme normalization/inclusion dogmas’ are of the nature of the irrational proposals put forward by normally reputable organisations such as the King’s Fund Centre in 1984.and subsequently by the Independent Development Council in 1985. These encouraged the decimation of successful structured and specialist services including special needs sections in day centres by proposing that all of the attendees could be found paid jobs or spend up to 4 – 5 days per week for years at colleges of FE. I still await , as I have done for many years, your justification for such irresponsible proposals.

‪In the meantime, I add the comment made in my book with regard to the UN Declaration:‪ “It is worthy of note that whilst the UN declaration proposed that handicapped people should benefit from the right to have access to ‘a life as normal and full as possible’ it did not contend that this should preclude associating with their own peer groups. Nor did it imply that to share the company or activities of other handicapped people is demeaning or devaluing. It will later become apparent that these perceptions were, however, strongly held by some influential factions of the ‘normalisation’ lobby and were instrumental in supporting calls for extreme radical change. This major divergence of opinion was to become one of the major issues in subsequent debates – and still remains a central issue of dissention at this present time.”

‪You have been living in another world, David, I note that when you sought support 35 years ago you did not turn to the real hands-on international expert on ‘inclusion’ theories, Professor Wolf Wolfensberger (USA), but instead to another of the ‘thinking’ and ‘philosophizing’ breed.

‪There is still much to be debated if events affecting the interests of carers, their adult children, and the general public are to be to be explored and fair judgements made. I will be making my own comments on my facebook page and welcome you to join me with your own unmoderated comments. Charles Henley


Author: charlesahenley

Following a varied career starting with 4 years as a city office worker, 4 years service in the RAF both as ground staff ad flying duties, 16 years working for IBM Time systems division as a service engineer, a short spell as a production line supervisor, before returning as service manager to another US business machines corporation who had taken over IBM Time systems division in the UK. The nature of this work brought into contact with day centre establishments for people with learning disabilities and in 1966 when radical and progressive policies were awakening I changed career direction. In the years that followed I worked for five different authorities at centres ranging in size from 24 to 190 attendees of all levels of ability and saw remarkably progressive policies being introduced in the first 20 years for the benefit of the attendees and their carers. Sadly, as a consequence of local authorities gaining full control of policy implementation from 1990 onwards, service support went into a spiral of decline that has made debacle of the rational principles of care in the community. There is now a vital need to take responsibility for service implementation away from local authorities and the NHS and grant it to a single service agency under the direction of its own Minister. Without an urgent change of direction, the current dire situation can only worsen.

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