As the parents of severely retarded children, we would like to make a few points that Kathy May, director of child and family services for the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) of Northern Virginia, omitted in her May 30 Close to Home submission.

Yes, state budgets always are a concern, but for ARC to make the cost of institutional care the scapegoat for why other needs may not be addressed is unconscionable. For many severely retarded citizens, who often also have multiple physical problems and special needs, group homes are not a viable option.

ARC's unfortunate either/or mentality is out of step with clinical reality. As with most things in life, there is a continuum in mental retardation, and we need a range of care options to deal with the varying degrees of assistance needed, up to and including what ARC calls "institutions." As parents, we choose to call them residential facilities because they are a far cry from the old stereotypical institutions of the past. For our children, these facilities are the only realistic option to provide the care they must have, while also encouraging and stimulating them to be all they can be.

ANNE and WILEY SALE

Woodbridge

ED and ELAINE SENFT

Reston