Living with a Learning Disability
by Hannah Crampton
What stigmas are associated with learning disabilities?
About 2% of the UK population have a learning disability. People affected by their learning disability can often be subject to negative attitude and behaviour from others, as may their carers or relatives. When it comes to learning disabilities in the workplace there may be a barrier. Only 7% of adults with learning disabilities are in paid work. Someone with a learning disability may also experience exclusion from education and social activities. These stigmas can negatively impact one’s life as they may feel lonely or depressed that they are not given the same opportunities. In this blog post we are going to explain how these negative attitudes can affect someone’s life and the importance of raising awareness.
So how do we change these attitudes?
Helping to raise awareness is key to overcoming this negative attitude. Here at Leeds Mencap our goal is to support young people and their families with disabilities whilst raising awareness. Social media is a powerful tool to help improve perceptions as well as educating people around you about learning disabilities. The best way to improve attitudes towards learning disabilities is to have personal contact with people who live with a learning disability and listen to their story as well as the stigmas they have to face. Educating the people around you about learning disabilities is essential to overcoming discrimination and stigmas associated.
How would someone with learning disabilities feel?
Someone with a learning disability may feel frustrated at times because they may not be able to communicate their needs as well as a non-disabled person. They may also struggle to fulfil tasks as easily as someone without a learning disability, causing them to feel upset or disheartened. Having a learning disability is not easy, but with the right support people can flourish to become whoever they want to be. Mental health issues can be common in people who have learning disabilities, with many facing struggles with depression or anxiety. Did you know that children with special educational needs are twice as likely to be bullied? Bullying can cause depression and anxiety in schools especially for children with learning disabilities. Someone with a learning disability may face a lot of discrimination in their life and feel that they are not given equal opportunities in education, jobs, housing and socialisation This can deeply affect someone’s life.
How does a learning disability affect you socially?
Having a learning disability can affect one’s social life. This is where friendships are important, friends can help support you and improve your well being. Someone with a learning disability may struggle with social skills and not know how to interact. Having strong connections can help reduce feelings of loneliness and help someone with a learning disability to feel valued and loved. It is important to have people you trust close in your life as they can help you when times are tough.
“According to research by the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, adults and children with learning disabilities and/or autism have fewer chances of being involved in activities or socialising with others and will naturally have fewer friends.”
Research suggests that 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spend less than 1 hour outside their home on a typical Saturday. In a survey by Sense, over half of disabled people reported feeling lonely, rising to over three quarters (77%) for those aged 18-34 (Sense 2017). Loneliness is associated with physical and mental health problems and poorer quality of life.
Friendships help someone build confidence and offer support in new experiences. If you are or know a young person struggling with mental health because of your learning disability please contact Leeds Mencap on 0113 235 1331 for support, classes and workshops. If you’re an adult who is struggling please contact National Mencap’s learning disability hotline for support at 0808 808 1111
Can a child overcome a learning disability?
Anyone can overcome their learning disabilities with the correct support around them. There are countless athletes, politicians, celebrities etc. who have all become successful despite their learning disabilities. A learning disability does not define someone. If you are feeling lost because of your learning disability or are worried about a family member struggling with their learning disability, please reach out to us at Leeds Mencap, as we have classes and support available to help build your confidence and to help you enjoy life.