‘Living Life with a Learning Disability’ is the theme of this year's Learning Disability Week (20-26 June 2022) and charities say it will be a chance to celebrate the positive impact people with a learning disability have in society.
There are 1.5 million people in the UK living with a learning disability and Mencap hope the week will educate and raise awareness about learning disability as well as highlight some of the issues that many still face.
In a Mencap survey, it was revealed that two thirds of people cannot correctly identify a learning disability as a reduced intellectual ability - with 40% of Brits thinking it’s dyslexia and 28% believing it to relate to a mental health issue.
Ciara Lawrence, Engagement Lead at the learning disability charity Mencap who herself has a learning disability, said: “Learning Disability Week is a fantastic way of promoting and celebrating our diverse community while telling the world what it’s really like to have a learning disability and showing the amazing things we can do.
“When I was younger, I remember feeling down and speaking to my mum about all the great things everyone else was doing that may not happen to me, but 21 years later I’m progressing in my career and happily married for nearly 10 years. I am so proud of everything I’ve achieved and hitting these milestones that people didn’t think could happen for people with a learning disability.
“I have everything I’ve ever dreamed off and more and I only wish the same for other people with a learning disability.”
How do you feel about your life with a learning disability?
The charity is asking people with a learning disability to celebrate the week by sharing something about their life so it can tell their story. What do you want to tell the world? What do you love? What do you want to change? What are you proud of? What are you worried about?
Edel Harris OBE, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, add: “My son Ross was diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome when he was five years old and the early discussions with our GP painted a bleak picture of his future that he wouldn’t be able to do various things, such as tie his own shoelaces or be able to live independently. Although it hasn’t been easy at times, he is now living a life that far exceeded anyone's expectations. Ross is happily married, has two supported employment jobs and is also a Special Olympian. My son is living a fulfilled life – and that first doctor we spoke to had set such low expectations.
“We want the UK to be the best place in the world for people with a learning disability to live happy and healthy lives and I hope that this Learning Disability Week will bring about increased awareness and reduce stigma. Everyone with a learning disability deserves to feel valued and celebrated, just like anyone else.”