This film is part of Free

Why Us?

Kindly doctors and caring professionals – a view from the Seventies into how children with learning difficulties were treated.

Documentary 1977 25 mins



One in a series of programmes aimed at social care professionals in the Seventies, Why Us? focuses on children with learning difficulties (then called mental handicap) and the impact of genetics on predicting disability. What jumps out is that the disabled children in the programme have no voice at all. Instead, kindly doctors and care professionals speak on their behalf.

Attitudes towards people with learning difficulties have changed significantly in the intervening 40 years from a “medical model” view of disability to a more rights-based perspective. The “Why Us?” question – giving birth to a child with a learning difficulty – is now less likely to be seen as a devastating tragedy for parents. Advocacy organisations like People First, run by people with learning difficulties, campaign and challenge old ideas around learning difficulty and promote citizenship and inclusion. Note that children with autistic spectrum condition are not mentioned at all, as diagnosis for ASC only began properly in the 1990s.