Every year in June Mencap organise ‘Learning Disability Awareness Week’. The week gives people the chance to find out more about what it means to live with a learning disability.
Sadly, people with a learning disability are twice as likely to experience mental health problems due to many factors including discrimination and social isolation. By raising awareness of learning disabilities, hopefully it will help to reduce discrimination and educate people on how to support and understand those with disabilities.
Learning disabilities can be very hidden or very obvious, from mild to profound. In March 2001 the Department of Health defined a learning disability as “significant reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence), with a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning), which started before adulthood”.
Having a learning disability can make everyday tasks much harder, sometimes meaning full time support is needed. Often though, with the right support, people with mild disabilities are able to live independent lives. Whether individuals live independently, in supported living or full time care they are able to live full and meaningful lives.
Our residents often often have conditions that are associated with learning disabilities such as Down’s syndrome, William’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and many others. These are not learning disabilities themselves but if you have one of these conditions you will often have a learning disability too. Again, the range of disability differs from person to person.
We should also be aware that a learning disability is different to a learning difficulty. Examples of learning difficulties are Dyslexia, ADHD and Dyspraxia, these too can range from mild or to severe but a learning difficulty does not affect general intellect.
Residents on a day out
Having a learning disability may mean that it harder for you to communicate your feelings and needs. It is sometimes thought that people with severe learning disabilities can’t communicate. This is not true, even if a person is non-verbal there are lots of ways for them to communicate and for others to understand how that person is feeling or what that person needs. Communication could be through a form of sign language or just through the expressions on a face. The more you get to know an individual the better you can understand how that person communicates.
Most of you will come across people with disabilities every day either at home, work, school or in the community. Every person is an individual, needing different levels of support, treat them with the individuality and respect that they deserve.
The residents of Oakdown House and Carricks Brook love being welcomed and included in their local community. Our residents regular enjoy visiting local places, going shopping, eating out, going to college, doing voluntary work etc. They are able to do all of these things thanks to the great team of staff that support them all to lead fulfilling lives.