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"Disabilities ARE NOT liabilities"


li·​a·​bil·​i·​ty ˌlī-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē




: the quality or state of being liable

was cleared of liability for the accident



: something for which one is liable

especially : pecuniary obligation : DEBT

—usually used in plural

business assets and liabilities


: one that acts as a disadvantage : DRAWBACK

This scandal makes the candidate a liability for the party.

One of the joys of being part of the FCIDD is working with people in communities throughout the eastern United States to support and celebrate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This is a joy because it's one of our highest purposes as humans--to nurture an inclusive society where each person's inherent value and gifts are acknowledged. We survive and thrive TOGETHER, because societies are incomplete if individuals are not fully included.

In 1942, "Tommy" McNulty was born to Baltimore residents Thomas and Mary McNulty. Being diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors had advised the parents to have Tommy institutionalized, which was common practice for those seen as having too many liabilities to contribute to modern society. The McNultys weren't satisfied with this outcome for their son and kept looking until they found doctors who were proving the common wisdom wrong . "So my wife and I weighed such fact(s) as we had, and decided together that we had a prime obligation to go the whole road with our son (Knickmeyer, Benoit, and Cruett, 1969)."

That road included speaking with other parents who shared similar experiences, being activists for support in the school systems and among government legislators, and taking key roles in the foundation of what is now the FCIDD, the Baltimore ARC, and the St. Francis School for Special Education. Tommy grew to become an influential member of Civitan International and a local hero by saving a boy who was drowning at a community pool.

The story and work of the McNulty family are foundational to the mission and work of the FCIDD, but more than that, it's foundational to the human experience and how individuals come together to become communities. Nonprofits addressing I/DD aren't looking to provide a separate "track" for people living with disabilities, but rather creating opportunities to assure individuals and families are supported in ways that a disability isn't equated with a person's whole being.

So the Foundation for Children for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities seeks to be an advocate for those nonprofits, a partner for I/DD research at the Civitan International Research Center, and a reminder that disabilities are not liabilities.

Knickmeyer, K.H., Benoit, C.H., & Cruett, C.R. (Eds.) (1969). The History of the Foundation for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children. (n.p.).


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