Monday, February 18, 2013

Virginia Families Fear Future Without Institutions for Their Chidlren

Adam Bertman at the Northern
Virginia Training Center in Fairfax.
On his bad days, Adam Bertman would crush light bulbs with his bare hands. He once launched the heavy lid of a toilet tank down the stairs, striking a caregiver.One of his worst days came in fall 1998, when Bertman, who has autism and brain disease, became upset while out for a supervised walk. He started throwing rocks at cars and was so out of control by the time police officers arrived that they pulled their guns.
That was Bertman’s life before he entered the Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax, one of the commonwealth’s five state-run institutions for the developmentally disabled. It was before he developed relationships with the center’s staff members, who have learned to read his body language for signs that he is becoming agitated.

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