Living with Learning Disabilities
It is difficult to know what a diagnosis of a learning disability will mean exactly for a person and their family.
Not having the right information about what to expect can make it difficult for families to understand or plan for the future. However, there are many groups and organisations that provide support and information for people with learning disabilities and their families.
If you are unsure about what learning disabilities are, our informative section 'What is a learning disability?' offers advice on the definitions and causes of learning disabilities.
Families can struggle to come to terms with their own or loved one’s diagnosis and can feel extremely isolated.
There are many local support groups that are run to provide support, information and guidance to individuals and families. Carer support groups and carer organisations can provide opportunities for family carers to meet and share their experiences and ideas to reduce the sense of isolation that some family members can feel.
There are also a number of online forums and networks that give information, advice and guidance. For more information, you can visit Mencap’s parent’s forum and Special friends an online community for people with learning disabilities.
There is also an online network called Netbuddy that provides practical information and tips on living with and supporting a person with a Learning Disability.
Learning Disabilities and Health
People with learning disabilities may find accessing healthcare a challenge, professionals often feel that they haven’t received sufficient training to communicate effectively with people who have learning disabilities and not understanding an illness or the medication needed can make the whole process intimidating for individuals.
Easy Health is a great easy-read website for both individuals and professionals which explains a number of topics in a simple and clear way. With information on subjects ranging from healthy eating and exercise ideas to explanations of painkillers, blood tests and what to do in an emergency, this site aims to make health information easy to understand.
It is really important for people with learning disabilities to feel confident accessing healthcare, as individuals with learning disabilities are more likely to experience poor health. People with learning disabilities are 20 times more likely to have epilepsy than the general population and are more likely to be obese as well as having increased risks for experiencing gum disease, dental problems, coronary heart disease, respiratory disease and osteoporosis.
Learning Disabilities and Relationships
One of the major worries for parents of people with learning disabilities is how their child will get on in social situations.
Bullying can be a problem, eight out of ten adults with learning disabilities were bullied as children, but this doesn’t mean it will happen to your child. Building your child’s self-confidence and ensuring that they know they can talk to you (or a friend or family member) about any issue will ensure your child doesn’t keep bullying a secret. For more tips and advice consult the Bullying UK website.
In some extreme cases people can become victims of crimes, targeted because of their disability. Hate crimes are serious offences and should always be reported to the Police. The Police understand how difficult these types of crimes can be to report, but if you would prefer some independent advice on this subject there are a number of local and national charities set up to support victims. Victim Support is a national organisation who run a support line for anyone who wishes to talk anonymously and in confidence about any type of crime.
For people with learning disabilities relationships can pose a challenge, things that others may take for granted like going on dates or moving in together can cause difficulties, but the right support can ensure that your family member won’t miss out.
People with learning disabilities have the same rights as anyone to live with someone and get married, but it is worth talking to social services about the impact that moving in or getting married will have on a person’s life, including their benefits and support needs.
Around seven percent of people with a learning disability become parents. This can be difficult for the individual and their child as people with learning disabilities are less likely to access antenatal or postnatal classes and can have a smaller support network than other parents. Mencap are currently working to provide better training for healthcare professionals and to increase support for parents.
Education and Employment
Approximately sixty-five percent of people with a Learning Disability want a job, but only seven percent have one.
At Craegmoor we aim to support everyone to fulfil their goals and ambitions. To do this we support individuals to access education and to find employment.
We understand that working can be a great way of improving people’s self esteem and increasing confidence as well as improving social skills, which is why we always aim to support individuals to find either paid or voluntary work. Voluntary work can be rewarding in its own right but dependent on the individual, can also be a great pathway to paid employment.
In Craegmoor services everyone is encouraged and supported to access local education services, for example an individual from Woodpecker Lodge recently graduated from Cheltenham University with a 2:1 degree.
Learning Disabilities and Housing
Finding a place to live and the right support can be hard for many people with learning disabilities.
At Craegmoor, we provide people with support to access a range of housing and accommodation options to best suit their needs. Increasingly, people are living in their own homes with support. People may need additional support to find suitable housemates to share their homes or support with managing the responsibilities of living in their own home and being a tenant. For more information about the support Craegmoor can provide to individuals living in the community visit our supported living pages.
If you would like further information about the full range of Craegmoor services then please call: 0845 277 4679.