Track 17 and so many other memorials remind us how easy it is for us to forget the individuals and their families who are affected by indifference to the struggles of others.


There are untold numbers of memorials that detail the horrors associated with World War II. The millions who died in the holocaust that consumed individuals of all ages, gender, races, religions, ethnicities and ability to work (particularly in slavery) are detailed in the libraries of documents produced by the perpetrators of these inhuman actions.

As decades have passed, the reminders of these acts are relegated to black and white films, and stories by fewer and fewer survivors who relate their experiences to the next generations for whom current events overshadow the unfathomable numbers in the tens of millions of who were lost. The reality of these senseless events are relegated to the world of history books.

One strange memorial in the suburbs of Berlin, Germany tells the story in a most subtle and understandable manner – the impact on small numbers of people and families at a time. Track 17 looks like any railroad station. Ribbons of steel lead into the distance – However…

Next to each rail are plaques which detail the daily numbers of individuals who were torn from their families on particular dates – shipped to some nameless location where they were encouraged to believe that they were being sent to begin life anew. – They were never to be seen again. (For example). 10. 1. 1944 – 353 Juden (Jews) 10. 3. 1944 – 190 Juden – Berlin to Auschwitz

We learned that these particular individuals and unbelievable numbers of others of the many religions, races, ethnicities and individuals with disabilities who couldn't work were murdered immediately. (Auschwitz was primarily a slave work camp with some gas chambers; the associated location, Birkenau, was a death camp.)


We have made considerable advances during the following decades in the care of individuals with disabilities. They are no longer confined to institutions or the back rooms of homes. Dependent upon the degree of disability, they live and work in our communities. Nevertheless, all too many with capabilities for employment are faced with limited opportunities, lack of educations and the unwillingness by employers to provide needed placements.


In 2016, 11.9% of U.S. individuals (16 years and older) with a disability, compared to 65.3% individuals with no disabilities were employed. • For all age educational attainment groups, jobless rates for persons with a disability were higher than those for persons without a disability. Persons with a disability are less likely to have completed bachelor's degrees or higher than those with no disability

• 34% of persons with a disability, compared to 16% of persons with no disability, were employed part-time.

• Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be selfemployed than those with no disabilities.

• Persons with a disability, were more concentrated in service occupations than those with no disabilities. 1 However, labor employment statistics are not uniform throughout the country. For example, in 2015, among non-institutionalized working age (ages 21-64 years) people with disabilities, 35.2% were employed, compared to 78.3% of people without disabilities.

Major variations in employment rates among the states for working age individuals with disabilities ranged from: Less than 30%: Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina; with the lowest rate of 25.8% in West Virginia Greater than 45%: Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming Greater than 50%: South Dakota and the highest rate of 59.9% in Wyoming Among individuals without disabilities, employment rates ranged from 56.4% in Puerto Rico and 72.5% in West Virginia, to 85.1% and 85.3% in New Hampshire, North Carolina and Nebraska. In Maine and Kentucky, the proportion of individuals without disabilities who were employed was three times the rate for individuals with disabilities; respectively, 82.5% vs 27.5% and 76.7 vs 26.9%.2


• Are the marked variations of employment proportions a reflection of differences in regional industrial characteristics; e.g. agricultural vs. manufacturing?

• Are there limited educational opportunities to prepare individuals with disabilities for employment in some regions?

• Are there limitations in transportation for individuals with disabilities in local areas?

• What polices are in place to encourage the employment of individuals with disabilities?

• Are local government agencies working to improve the employment status of individuals with disabilities?

• How active are families in the development of necessary avenues to prepare their communities to ensure the employment of youngsters and older individuals with disabilities?


Preparing a child with a disability for adulthood involves multiple issues beyond those faced by all children. The added burden is to ensure that, to the limit of his/her capabilities, they are able to function in all areas of activities – even including the arena of employment.

It may seem premature. Nevertheless, testing and directive efforts can provide a foundation for the development of training and experiences leading to areas of employment. For example, summer and holiday programs for youngsters with disabilities could lead to employment opportunities; as potential employers can recognize their potential abilities for future consideration.

Track 17 and so many other memorials remind us how easy it is for us to forget the individuals and their families who have been and are affected by indifference to the struggles of others. Youngsters with disabilities must be prepared to overcome these realities if they are to succeed to the limits of their difficulties; even in the employment arena.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: H. Barry Waldman, DDS, MPH, PhD - Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of General Dentistry at Stony Brook University, NY; E-mail: Steven P. Perlman, DDS, MScD, DHL (Hon) is Global Clinical Director, Special Olympics, Special Smiles and Clinical Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, The Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. Matthew Cooke, DDS, MD, MPH is Associate Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology & Pediatric Dentistry University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Pittsburgh PA; Assistant Clinical Professor, Departments of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Pediatric Dentistry, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, Richmond, VA.

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DEVELOPMENTAL MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) was organized in 2002 to provide a forum for healthcare professionals who provide clinical care to people with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities (ND/ID). The mission of the organization is to improve the quality and assure the parity of healthcare for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities throughout the lifespan.

Plaque near railroad station

GHASTLY FIGURES: In the suburbs of Berlin, plaques near the railroad station detail the daily numbers of individuals who were torn from their family on particular dates; never to be seen again.

References 1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Persons with a disability: labor force characteristics survey. Available from: Accessed September 20, 2017. 2. Cornell University. 2015 Disability Status Report United States. Available from: disabilitys- StatusReport_US.pdf?CFID=1938350&CFTOKEN=d9671429e6557443-3E7D34C3-EF9D-DA98E2FAF11577349851 Accessed September 20, 2017. 3. Newman J. Opening doors for my autistic son. Reader's Digest 2017;22(76):88-98.