Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 379–390 | Cite as

Normalization and its relevance today

  • Gary B. Mesibov
Special Issue: Residential Services


Historically, the normalization principle has been influential in promoting a comprehensive community-based service delivery system for people with developmental handicaps. However, its effects were more positive a decade ago when the issues were simply inhumane institutions or more individualized community-based alternatives. Issues in community-based programs for developmentally handicapped people have become more diverse and the choices more complex. In the current climate, the effects of the normalization principle have polarized issues for several reasons: The theory works better than current practice, the criteria are vague and the goals unattainable, normalization takes the focus away from individual client needs, the theory discourages diversity, normalization has become a rallying point for inappropriate practices, overzealousness of normalization advocates has polarized issues, normalization promotes an undesirable value system, and normalization ignores handicapped clients' deficits. What is needed to replace the normalization principle today are guiding concepts that are clearer, more responsive to client needs, and more reflective of value systems that are in the best interests of handicapped people.


Delivery System Service Delivery Current Practice School Psychology Developmental Handicap 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary B. Mesibov
    • 1
  1. 1.Division TEACCHUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA

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