by Evander Lomke on
Likely we have all seen the terrible story out of Connecticut of the friend that was mauled by the pet chimpanzee of the other friend. It obviously reminds us of the mysteries of the brain. Why would a docile creature suddenly turn? But there is another dimension to the story. This has to do with the way we, as a society, reflect on and behave toward “difference.”
It was only recently (I reluctantly admit) that I learned how large chimps become in adulthood. Like most everyone I suspect, I knew the cute little ones doing tricks on television. A documentary on what happens to these cute animals when they grow up opened my eyes.
During the 1980s especially, when AIDS research continued to experiment (often cruelly) at a rapid pace on chimpanzees (whether crossing species lines in such experimentation has true validity is a topic of conversation for forum), chimps were bred in large numbers. The question after that was what to do with these often-maimed–physically and certainly psychologically–animals. Fortunately, there are sanctuaries.
Working with people with special needs is not completely dissimilar as are the views of society toward this population. Young people, especially babies, with developmental delays are given far more attention than the older population. (Early intervention is always a key, so this is is a good and enlightened thing.) When special-needs individuals are young, they are cute and cuddly. But as they age into their 20s, their 30s, their 40s, and beyond as medical advances are made, we as a society do not want to see this population anymore. These are the people that are the forgotten of society.
We at AMHF are planning programs and research to advance the cause of the special emotional problems of the disabled. As some enlightened individuals have provided sanctuary for lab animals, so do we at AMHF hope some day to have a program for helping those in society that are the most forgotten.
Out of sight does not mean out of mind.