Approximately 15,000‒18,000 people with severe and multiple disabilities live in Hungary, including 3000‒3500 minors. Disabled people in this category have at least two severe disabilities, so they need support and care all their life. Most of them have severe mobility impairment and cannot speak, and more than three-quarters of them have mental disabilities. They can be considered as one of the most disadvantaged groups even within the Hungarian disabled population.
People with severe and multiple disabilities are cast out by the system from virtually everywhere: they can hardly be admitted even to kindergarten, and they drop out of school very early – assuming they are admitted there in the first place. As adults, they can no longer access the services of day-time institutions and residential facilities, while supportive housing practically is practically non-existent in Hungary. Their subsistence as adults is almost completely unresolved as well. Thus, civil rights organizations say, the biggest problem facing this group is one of complete abandonment, for which the only solution the state has is to gather these completely vulnerable people into mass institutions.
‘I don’t intend to shock you but I know you will be shocked anyway. Many here are in a condition that some people could not even imagine,’ says the director of Topház in Göd, Tamás Formanek, as he opens the door for me to one of the wings of the institution nursing children and adults with severe and multiple disabilities. It is not an exaggeration. At first, the sight is indeed mostly frightening but after the first shock, when we get used to the fact that we see different kinds of bodies here than in everyday life, then we also realize how much the residents smile and with how much effort they try to show as much as possible of their own world. (Photo: János Bődey / Index)