A learning disability is lifelong. A child or young person might have a mild, moderate or severe learning disability, which will affect the amount of support they need in their day-to-day life.
Children with a learning disability find it harder than others to learn, understand and communicate. Children with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) need full-time help with every part of their lives – including eating, drinking, washing, dressing and going to the toilet.
A learning disability is not a mental illness. It is also different to a learning difficulty, which is often used to describe things like dyslexia. Children or young people who have a learning disability are aware of what goes on around them. However, their ability to understand and communicate may be limited, and they can find it hard to express themselves. Speech problems can make it even harder to make other people understand their feelings and needs.
For a parent, it can be distressing to find out that their child has a learning disability. It may be hard to communicate with the learning disabled child, difficult to manage their behaviour and hard for other people to understand. There are a number of support services available such as outreach, short breaks and residential support.
Children with a learning disability are more likely to develop mental health problems, for example anxiety, or have additional developmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) than other children.
Disability does not stop a child from having a full and enjoyable life. The aim of all the specialist services is to help children with a general learning disability and their families to have lives that are as enjoyable and fulfilling as those of other people.
Learning difficulty – Case study
Names have been changed to protect identities.
Simon has been living at a CareTech residential home since 2004. He has severe learning difficulties and when he first arrived, required round the clock support which meant that he was unable to receive an education of any kind.
Here at CareTech we provide an onsite gradual home education programme and our team devised a suitable programme for Simon.
Simon has made excellent progress and now requires far less support. The encouragement of the staff and the confidence he has gained through studying has enabled him to form positive relationships within the community.
Simon is continuing to make progress and is now thriving at a local specialist school.