Dr. Gunnar Dybwad later noted, "What Governor Youngdahl had to say was indeed prophetic. He was at least two decades ahead of the times." At this conference, the National Association of Parents and Friends of Retarded Children was formed. The primary goal of the Association was to promote "the general welfare of the mentally retarded of all ages everywhere: at home, in the community, in institutions, and in public, private, and religious groups."
Prior to this time, people with mental retardation had no one to speak on their behalf. Now, parents were organizing and assuming leadership roles, and telling professionals, "We speak for our sons and daughters." Other national organizations were also started at this time, including the United Cerebral Palsy Association and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The National Association of Parents and Friends of Retarded Children was first registered as a nonprofit organization in 1953 and named the National Association for Retarded Children.
In 1973, the organization changed its name to the National Association for Retarded Citizens, and in 1981 to The Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States. The most recent change was in 1992 when the national organization became known as The Arc. The Arc continues to be one of the largest voluntary organizations comprised of family, friends, self-advocates, and professionals. The organization has grown from its few founding members in 1950 to 106,897 members in 1967. At its peak in 1977, membership totaled 220,936 individuals.