Thank you so much for being part of the first Learning Disability Pride event in Northern Ireland! We’ve had a few questions, so we thought we’d group them all here, and add to it as they get asked – whether this is during or after the big event!
If you have a question please do get in touch via social media or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thought we’d start with the basics:
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which results in difficulty with everyday activities, such as handling money or socialising. It affects someone for their whole life. Someone with a learning disability may need extra time to learn new tasks, and may require support to aid their understanding of new or complex information. The level of support someone requires depends on many factors, including the severity of their learning disability, and the types of activities they are completing.
Is a learning disability a mental health illness?
Absolutely not! As stated above, a learning disability will affect someone for their whole life. Learning disability occurs when the brain is still developing, and this may be before, during or soon after birth. For example, before birth a baby may develop certain genes, or something may happen to the mother while she is pregnant that causes learning disability, such as an accident or illness. Another cause of learning disability may be due to lack of oxygen during childbirth. There are many causes, and many types of learning disability, but a learning disability is not an illness, and as such, there is no ‘cure’. Many people with a learning disability can lead independent lives with the right types of support in place – exactly the type of thing we are coming together to celebrate as part of Learning Disability Pride.
A mental health illness, however, may affect someone at any stage of their life, and may be treatable with therapeutic intervention or medication. It is of course possible that someone with a learning disability may also suffer from mental health illness during their life, but they are certainly not one in the same thing. A person with a learning disability may have any possible other type of mental, physical or sensory impairment or disability too.
You can find out more about Mental Health from many local organisations, including our friends at Action Mental Health.
What can I do to help or support people with learning disabilities?
People with learning disabilities have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. You can help by treating someone with a learning disability in the same way you would treat someone without a learning disability, for example, by speaking directly to the person rather than someone who is with them, or by giving them a fair opportunity for employment, or even just showing some patience if they become flustered when in a shop or restaurant.
There are also many opportunities to volunteer to support people with a learning disability in a direct or non-direct way, for example, fundraising for an organisation who offer services for people with learning disabilities, befriending or volunteering at a local social or support group. Find out more by searching for opportunities at the Volunteer Now website, or by contacting an organisation directly.
How can I find out more?
Please do get in touch!
There are many organisations on a local and national level who provide services and support for people with learning disabilities and their families. We’ve listed the websites of the organisations who have been part of the Steerings Group for Learning Disability Pride below, and each organisation is happy to hear from anyone who has any enquiries about learning disabilities or how to get involved.
- Carrickfergus and District Senior Gateway
- Mencap in Northern Ireland
- Positive Futures
- LEAD Counselling
- Caring Breaks
We’re always more than happy to help develop understanding about learning disability so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or comments to make about learning disability and more specifically, Learning Disability Pride! 🙂