The earliest stages of a grass-roots movement, led by parents of children with developmental disabilities, began to take hold in the years following the Great Depression. In 1933, the Cuyahoga County Council for the Retarded Child was established in Ohio. This group was founded to assist the children of the region who had been excluded from the public schools.
In the decade that followed, more than 10 other organizations were established across the country. Independent and unbeknownst to each other, they included such organizations as the Children’s Benevolent League (later changed to the Washington Association for Retarded Children) led primarily by parents whose children were in the state’s residential centers, and the Welfare League for Retarded Children, founded in 1939, composed of parents whose children were at Letchworth Village, a residential facility of New York.