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there are other kinds of disabilities too

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
29 January 2016

With World War II over, there was going to be a lot of need for care-taking. Leo Seltzer's Oscar-winning "First Steps" looks at a special type of care-taking that was going to be important in the post-war years. The focus is an occupational therapy camp for children with disabilities. These tykes were cast out of society, seen as freaks, and so the specialists help them learn how to function normally. The material is a little dated, but it's still an important look at those who provide some of the most crucial help. If it got made nowadays, it would have to incorporate a focus on non-physical disabilities like autism. But anyway, this is nevertheless a documentary that everyone should see.

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Even after 66 years, still quite useful and pertinent

Author: Robert Reynolds ( from Tucson AZ
17 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This short, which won the Oscar, is about the rehabilitation of the disabled, specifically disabled children. Having been there and done that myself (I was born with a disability and have done a fair amount of physical and occupational therapy) this short is of more than passing interest. There will be mild spoilers:

This short talks about rehabilitation of the disabled, focusing on children broadly in the beginning, showing how occupational therapy can often take the form of play or fun work for a child. Swimming is also a useful form of physical therapy for many disabilities. Toward the end of the short, they focus on one boy's efforts to learn to walk. The exercises he went through, the therapy he went through, was very familiar to me. A fair number of the exercises were still in use very recently, when I had to rehab from a broken leg a few years ago. They're still in use because they work.

Therapy is hard, repetitive work and a good therapist is worth their weight in platinum. A bad therapist can do more harm than the disability. Something this short touches on nicely has to do with one of the greatest challenges which the disabled can face-attitudes, their own and those of other people. For all the hopeful phrases found in the narration here, all too often in that era and for some years after, kids wound up being warehoused as "for the best". Raising children is a challenge even under "normal" circumstances. I was lucky and had a mother who didn't give up on me. Not every child is so fortunate.

Excellent short which is still relevant today. Most worth seeking out. Most recommended.

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