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New York State Asylum For Idiots, Second Annual Report Of The Trustees

Creator: n/a
Date: February 10, 1853
Source: Steve Taylor Collection

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The first year in the history of the asylum has passed, and I think with very satisfactory results. We are called upon, at this time, to express our thanks to an all-wise Being, in whose sight the distinctions of human intelligence are but as mote-wide, that he has blessed us with a remarkable exemption from sickness; and that while His hand has quenched in death intellects of the highest order, it has been extended with a fatherly care over these, the most helpless, dependent and unfortunate of His children.


Our number of pupils has nearly doubled; every judicial district is fully and fairly represented in our school, and the whole number allowed by law are now, and for some three months have been, in attendance. We have refused, while there was yet room, but one applicant of a suitable age. That was a case described by the family and examining physicians, as one of continued violent and almost hourly recurring convulsions, and where in their opinion the life of the subject was very uncertain.


We have sent away three of those received during the year, after a residence of some time at the asylum, and a fair trial. One was in consumption, and died but a few weeks after leaving. Another was a marked case of hereditary insanity, while the third was afflicted with chorea, that rendered him entirely unfit for instruction or discipline.


Some degree of system has been established in all departments of the institution. All engaged in the instruction, in the management, and even in providing for the physical wants of the children, have been benefited by the year's experience. Especially may I say of the teachers, that they now labor with more interest, a better understanding of the nature of their duties, and a stronger faith in the ultimate good results of their efforts. Justice demands of me this expression of my appreciation of the fidelity, patience and industry of all connected with the institution under my direction.


But, above all, it gives me pleasure to call your attention to the very marked improvements in the condition of the pupils; to the fact that their present comfort and happiness have been promoted by their residence with us; and, also, that the results of this brief period justify liberal expectations as to the ultimate benefits that our pupils will receive from such an asylum and such a system of instruction.


Even this brief existence of our asylum has sufficed to show the wide range of the benefits of such an institution; embracing all persons of a teachable are, not otherwise provided for by the good policy and charity of the State, and limited only by its capacity and its means. It has sufficed to convince those who have witnessed our efforts, that we were attempting nothing beyond the reach of probabilities; that our means were adapted to the ends we had in view, and that success must attend those means, in relation to those ends, as surely as effects follow causes.


It has been seen (to notice some general results) that our pupils are capable of some degree of order, as they take their places and conduct with decorum, in the school-room and at the table; that they are capable of enjoyment from sources suited to their various conditions that we have been successful in finding a starting point in their instruction; that we have adapted the steps of the educational course to the varied capacities of our pupils, as manifested in the marked interest with which they engage in the exercises of the school. It has been seen that there has been a positive improvement, in all cases, in the habits, in the diminished amount of trouble and care involved in their management, in their mental development, and in their moral character.


The special results will be best appreciated by a personal inspection of the school, and a particular observation of each individual case. I have, however, in an appendix to this report, given a list of the state pupils, and a brief description of their condition when received, and progress since.


I may add, that we have from time to time received from the parents and friends of our pupils, expressions of a grateful appreciation of what has been accomplished thus far, with many of the children.


In view of what has been done in so short a time, when all have been placed in new positions, with unaccustomed duties, without the faith to animate them in the path of their labors that successful experience alone can give; with but a moderate degree of system, so essential to success in any undertaking with a class of pupils, certainly, in the aggregate, not above the average of idiots in the State; in short, under all the disadvantages attending the infancy of such an institution, may we not expect still higher results under the more favorable circumstances and influences that are, I trust, about to dawn upon us?


May we not feel the assurance, that all the faculties, or germs of faculties, in every case will be more or less developed, if there shall only be faithful instruction and a proper understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the subject?

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