A to Z
We use the term ‘advocacy’ to describe what a member of the community (an ‘advocate’) is doing when they provide support to a person who may feel vulnerable, isolated or disempowered.
"Ageing" is a relative concept; we are all ageing every second. "Old age" can be similarly hard to define, given that people age at different rates, and with different effects.
Anxiety is a type of fear usually associated with the thought of a threat or something going wrong in the future, but can also arise from something happening right now. Around 1 in 6 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem like anxiety each year, a figure which has steadily increased over the past 20 years.
Asperger syndrome is part of the autistic spectrum. Having an autistic spectrum disorder means that someone has difficulties in the areas of social interaction, communication and imagination.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a learning difficulty caused by a neurobehavioural disorder, and is the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children.
Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)
Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term used to describe a number of symptoms and behaviours which affect the way in which a group of people understand and react to the world around them.
Many people with a learning disability and their families may be entitled to benefits to help support them with everyday life expenses. There are a wide variety of benefits available.
Coming to terms with the death of a loved one can be very difficult, as it can stir up a whole range of complicated feelings. People often move between denial, anger, grief and confusion before acceptance is reached.
What is Cerebral palsy? Cerebral palsy is a physical condition affecting muscle control and movement. It is usually caused by damage to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. Causes can be complex, and as a result doctors are often unable to give a specific reason for the condition. However, for 80% of those affected, the damage to the brain happened while the baby was growing in the womb. Factors include genetic problems, malformations of the brain, and maternal infection such as rubella or toxoplasmosis. Cerebral palsy cannot currently be screened before birth. There are three...
In his book, Challenging Behaviour , Eric Emerson defines challenging behaviour as: “Culturally abnormal behaviour(s) of such an intensity, frequency or duration that the physical safety of the person or others is likely to be placed in serious jeopardy, or behaviour which is likely to seriously limit use of, or result in the person being denied access to, ordinary community facilities”
Children and young people
Learning disabilities affect an estimated 286,000 under-18s (180,000 boys, 106,000 girls) in the UK. They can vary from what are considered ‘mild’ learning disabilities to more complex learning disabilities.
Circles of support and circles of friends
Circles were developed to support individuals to become reconnected in the community, and to make friendships and relationships.
Communicating with and for people with learning disabilities
Communication is vital in ensuring that people can express themselves and make sense of the world around them.
Community connecting is a way of supporting people with learning disabilities to make lasting relationships based on shared interests and mutual benefit.
Criminal justice system
The current prison population represents a huge diversity of individuals with a range of very complex needs, including a high number who have mental health problems, learning difficulties or learning disabilities. There are concerns firstly that people with learning disabilities who commit a crime are not getting a fair trial, and secondly that if found guilty, their sentencing may not take account of the reasonable adjustments which they may need in order to comply with the sentence. Early identification and assessment of problems is vital for the effective and appropriate treatment of...
Dementia is a condition associated with a decline in the brain’s cognitive ability. There are various types of dementia, with two of the most common being Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Depression and learning disability
Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.
A Direct Payment is when an individual or their main carer is given a cash payment instead of receiving the services identified as necessary and accounted for by the relevant authority. This payment will be used by the individual to organise and pay for their own care.
Down’s syndrome is one of the best-known causes of a learning disability. It is a genetic condition, resulting from either an extra chromosome or extra genetic material from chromosome 21.
The topics of death and dying can be sensitive issues. This can be especially true when talking to people with learning disabilities, largely due to the health problems experienced by many, as well as the varying attitudes towards talking about the subject.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty affecting the way in which information is processed. Whilst the condition is not solely confined to literacy, the most commonly recognised signs are problems with reading, writing and spelling.
Learn more about dyspraxia. Find out how it affects people, how many people have dyspraxia and how to get help for it.
‘Easy read’ refers to the presentation of text in an accessible, easy to understand format. It is often useful for people with learning disabilities, and may also be beneficial for people with other conditions affecting how they process information.
How many people with learning disabilities are in paid work? In 2012, the Department of Health's Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework found that 7% of adults with learning disabilities were in some form of paid employment, the (probably vast) majority of which was part-time work.
Ethnicity and equality
'Minority Ethnic Community’ is an umbrella term that covers many groups of people. It groups together all people whether they are new to the UK or have lived here all their life, and whether they are first, second or third (etc) generation immigrants.
Foetal alcohol syndrome
Foetal (or Foetal) Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was first discovered in 1973 by doctors in the United States. The condition describes a number of foetal abnormalities which occur in the babies of women who have abused alcohol during their pregnancy, affecting the way a baby’s brain develops.
Fragile X syndrome (Martin-Bell syndrome)
Fragile X is the most common genetically inherited condition which causes learning disability. There is a change (mutation) in one of the genes on the X chromosome, which produces a protein essential for brain development.
Friendships are an important part of most people’s lives. They help us feel like we belong and are worthwhile, and they can offer us support when things are difficult in our lives.
Harassment & hate crime
People with learning disabilities are more vulnerable than others to experiencing bullying, harassment or hate crime. According to Mencap, as many as 9 out of 10 people with learning disabilities have been a victim of hate crime and/or harassment.
People with learning disabilities have a much greater propensity to develop health problems (both physical and mental) when compared with the general population.
It has been estimated that around one in three people with learning disabilities may have a sensory impairment, rendering the condition far more common amongst this community than it is amongst the general population.
There are many housing options for people with learning disabilities to choose from. Finding the right house for the individual may take some time and thought, but it has been shown to significantly improve their quality of life.
A person with a learning difficulty may be described as having specific problems processing certain forms of information.
Having a learning disability means that people find it harder to learn certain life skills. The problems experienced vary from person to person, but may include aspects such as learning new things, communication, managing money, reading, writing, or personal care.
'Mental capacity' means being able to successfully make your own decisions. Someone lacking capacity because of a disability or illness such as a learning disability, dementia or a mental health problem would be unable to do one or more of the following four things: Understand information given to them about a particular decision Retain that information long enough to be able to make the decision Weigh up the information available to make the decision Communicate their decision. We all make decisions, big and small, every day of our lives and most of us are able to make these decisions for...
Mental Capacity Act 2005
The Mental Capacity Act sets out in law what happens when adults are unable to make particular decisions for themselves. In the case that an individual has trouble making certain decisions about their life, support for health treatment and social care must be provided. If the person is aged over 16 years old and living in England or Wales, then the Mental Capacity Act provides a legal framework for how professionals and other paid carers are to work with them (Scotland has its own law, the Adults with Incapacity [Scotland] Act 2000). Carers and professionals are required to follow the...
All of us experience challenges to our emotional well-being at some stage in our lives, with one in four of us experiencing a problem with our mental health in any one year.
Learn about mutual caring. Find out how families develop routines and ways of coping that mean both the older carer and the person with learning disabilities look after each other.
NHS Continuing Healthcare
Also known as ‘Fully Funded NHS Care’, this is a complete package of health and social care arranged and funded by the NHS for people with continuing health needs, allowing this care to continue outside hospital. The package is free, with no requests made for personal contributions from the individual. Who is eligible for it? NHS Continuing Healthcare (NHS CHC) may be offered based on an assessment of the individual’s needs, and whether or not this constitutes a ‘primary health need’. This assessment is based on the following: The nature of their needs, referring to the impact on the...
Person-centred planning (PCP)
Person centred planning (PCP) provides a way of helping a person plan all aspects of their life, thus ensuring that the individual remains central to the creation of any plan which will affect them.
Learn about a Personal Budget allocated to you by the council to meet your social care needs. Find out how you can receive it, what it may be used for, if you need to pay anything towards it and individual budgets.
Personal Health Budgets
A Personal Health Budget (not to be confused with a Personal Budget, although the two can be combined) is an amount of money allocated to you by the NHS to meet the costs of your assessed healthcare and support needs.
‘Personalisation’ refers to the process by which people with long-term illnesses or conditions receive support that is tailored to their individual needs and wishes.
Quality of life
A person’s quality of life is influenced by a lot of different things. Once our most basic needs are met such as having enough to eat and drink, then we start to think of the more complicated aspects involved in creating a happy meaningful life. Some of the things that help us to have a good quality of life are: Having meaningful relationships – friends, family and partners Having a safe and stable home Having meaningful purpose to your days Being healthy Having financial security Being respected and feeling heard Having choices For someone with a learning disability, these things are just as...
Rett syndrome is a rare genetic, neurodevelopmental disorder. It predominantly affects females, with males affected much more rarely, and usually less severely.
Learn about sight and learning disabilities. Find out what some of the issues are affecting people with a sight problem and learning disabilities.
Social model of disability
The social model of disability proposes that what makes someone disabled is not their medical condition, but the attitudes and structures of society.
Spirituality can mean many things to people with learning disabilities and what it comprises will be unique to every person.