Gunnar Dybwad On Normalization

Let me say a few words about the normalization principal as it was developed first in Denmark by Niels Erik Bank-Mikkellsen. A very wonderful state administrator in Denmark who had died just two years ago. He had been a person in Danish state administration. When the parents of children with mental retardation petitioned the king to have a committee to investigate the problem of mental retardation and there was such a committee and Mr. Bank-Mikkelsen was the secretary of the committee. and the committee recommeneded that a service be established.

The king did, and Mr. Bank-Mikkelsen became the head of it. And he began to look at institutions and found to his amazement that in institutions where there were little children, older children, and adults with mental retardation, dinner was served at 3:00 in the afternoon so that the staff could wash the dishes before they left. He found that toilets existed there as they existed nowhere else in Denmark, open toilets without stalls. He found dormitories where people lived in conditions that were not to be seen anyplace.

And he came to the conclusion that these individuals had a right to live under normal circumstances. And he called this the normalization principal, that we should change things so that these individuals could live like other people do.