Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Stand back Superman…

Dan Parton cutNext week is Learning Disability Week and to promote it Mencap is calling for stories of real-life superheroes. This is a great idea because we need to celebrate more the positive stories of people with learning disabilities and those who support them.

Mencap’s idea is simple: “We think real people can be like superheroes too! The families we work with are amazing. We think there are brave and selfless superheroes and this year we want to make sure everyone knows it!”

Hear, hear. And they don’t even need to wear their underpants on the outside of their trousers…

Everybody who is related to, friends with or works with a person with a learning disability will be able to recount their own positive stories. Parents and carers do amazing things on a daily basis, but you never seem to hear about it.

Indeed, in general people with learning disabilities and their parents and carers only tend to appear in the mainstream national news when there has been a scandal or tragedy, such as Winterbourne View or the Francecca Hardwick case.

Maybe ‘parent does wonderful things with child’ doesn’t make the most attention-grabbing headline – good news rarely sells, after all – but that is all the more reason we should be shouting about it.

While some people may question why we need a Learning Disability Week – for instance, is it highlighting difference rather than inclusion? – I think it is necessary to highlight learning disability issues and also to flag up some of the positive stories out there because they aren’t given enough airtime for the rest of the year.

Of course, it shouldn’t take a specific week for people to pay attention to learning disability issues, but given that it is here, we need to make the most of it. There are still too many misconceptions and out-dated stereotypes concerning people with learning disabilities and people who care for them and anything that challenges these needs to be embraced.

So, if anybody wants to flag up the superhero in their lives, post it on Mencap’s Twitter feed or Facebook page. The hashtag for Learning Disability Week is #LDweek13.

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