Frequently Asked Questions

How did Bethesda get its name?

The name Bethesda is taken from John 5:2-9 and means House of Mercy.

John 5
2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie -- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well? 7 "Sir" the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.  While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." 
8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk." 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath.

Where was Bethesda first located?

Initially Bethesda rented a facility called the Faith Home located on Margaret St. in Watertown, Wis.  Land was later donated on the Rock River in Watertown, the current site of Bethesda's Corporate Center.

How can I help support Bethesda's mission?

What is the difference between an intellectual disability and a developmental disability?

Developmental Disability

  • Severe, chronic disability that is attributable to mental and/or physical impairments
  • Manifested before the age of 22 years  and are like to continue indefinitely
  • Result in substantial limitations in three or more of the following areas:
    • self-care
    • comprehension and language
    • skills (receptive and expressive language)
    • learning
    • mobility
    • self-direction
    • capacity for independent living
    • economic self-sufficiency
    • ability to function independently without coordinated services (continuous need for individually planned and coordinated services)

Intellectual Disability

  • Intellectual disability is characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical skills
  • Originates before the age of 18

Developmental disability is a broad term that includes a wide range of disabilities that occur during the developmental period. Intellectual disability is one of several types of developmental disabilities.

What is mental retardation?

The term mental retardation is a legitimate medical classification but has fallen out of favor among people with the disability and advocacy groups.  It has been replaced by the term intellectual disability.

What causes an intellectual disability?

The three major causes are:

  • Down syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome

Intellectual disabilities can be caused by any condition that impairs the development of the brain before and during birth, or in childhood.  There are over 300 known causes of mental retardation.

How does an intellectual disability affect a person?

Each person is different and has varying strengths and deficits. Some areas that may be affected are:

  • Varied range of abilities
  • Learn at a slower rate
  • Difficulties with basic concepts
  • Difficulties retaining information
  • Limited learning capacity
  • Short memory span
  • Short attention span
  • Difficulties generalizing information

How can I be more inclusive of a person with an intellectual disability?

  • Invite someone with disabilities to join your group, class, or social hour
  • Sit next to them in church
  • Volunteer at a local service organization
  • Include people with intellectual disabilities in your life, be a friend

Learn more about Bethesda's awareness materials

What can I say to someone who has an intellectual disability?

Talk to someone with an intellectual disability just like you would anyone else.

Can a person with an intellectual disability lead a fulfilling, independent life?

Yes. Individuals with disabilities are able to live and work in the community just like you and me. Some people may need more intense support services to help them live as independently as possible, but they still enjoy watching movies, going out for dinner, and spending time with friends.

Read Bethesda's success stories

What kind of vocational opportunities are available for a person with intellectual disabilities?

Actually, the question is not what jobs are available but rather, how to help a person obtain and succeed in the job of their choice. This might involve:

  • Identifying skills needed to do the job
  • Teaching job related skills
  • Hiring a job coach to learn the job specifics
  • Assessing the person's progress and adjusting the goals accordingly

How can I modify teaching materials for a person with intellectual disabilities?

Use concrete, age-appropriate materials that will appeal to their interests and relate to their lives within their family, home, job or school setting.

  • Break information down into steps or segments and remember to repeat things again and again
  • Teach the skill where it will be used

Where can I go for more information about intellectual and developmental disabilities?

Additional Information:

© 2014 Bethesda Lutheran Communities
600 Hoffmann Drive, Watertown, WI 53094 Phone: 800-369-4636