On day 1 of the 7 Days Of Action to close Assessment and Treatment Units we want to offer our support to the families who are leading this campaign.We want to support the people with learning disabilities who are still in the Assessment and Treatment Units in your struggle to move back into your community.
When we talked about what we could do at CHANGE to support the 7 Days of Action, one of the things that people suggested was that they write a blog about how it feels to have a learning disability and what barriers people with learning disabilities continue to face living in the community.
This blog is written by a group of people with learning disabilities who work and volunteer at CHANGE. Some people live on their own independently in the community, some people live with support and some people live in residential units.
This is what people with learning disabilities from CHANGE have to say:
We want to share with you some of our difficult experiences and then our good experiences of what it feels like having a learning disability in 2016 in the UK.
To us having a learning disability can feel like having a monkey on our backs. We feel like we are being put down and being judged all the time. We feel we have to prove ourselves to people all the time wherever we go. Sometimes people help us in picking ourselves back up. We have some good friends on one side of the table who are picking us up and people on the other side of the table who are putting us down.
Sometimes it can feel like we are in a goldfish bowl and people are judging us all the time and waiting for us to do something wrong then they’ll jump on us, especially if we are parents. It can happen everywhere.
“Fourteen years ago I moved into the community, no one offered me a cup of tea, they thought I didn’t deserve my house and thought I wasn’t working and that I wanted to be on benefits. But I was picking myself up moving on and getting on with my life. It’s so frustrating, people make so many assumptions about us. We’re not spongers, we want to work. Many people think we can’t do anything for ourselves. In their minds we’re like children. It’s really not nice being treated like a child when you’re an adult. Some people are scared of us and scared to talk to us. Often people will talk about having a learning disability like there’s something wrong with us.”
But…..we can prove people wrong and WE LOVE proving people wrong! When we tell people what we do for a living they look shocked…we’re breaking the ice. People are shocked at what we can do! It makes us laugh! When we start talking to people they stop being scared and they start to respect us.Having a learning disability is who we are, its part of our lives. We love having friends who have a learning disability, because they don’t judge us. I can be myself with people like me. I feel comfortable being me. I feel equal.
We can do things that other people can’t do! We are better at developing accessible information! We can try and put the professionals right by offering them training. We can use our life experiences to develop training which can support people to do their jobs better and to make the world better for other people with learning disabilities. Actually we really ARE the experts! We have our own freedoms, we are role models for other people with learning disabilities giving them hope that there is a better and a different way forward. Being a role model we inspire other people with learning disabilities. Sometimes we can really change peoples’ attitudes and that’s like winning the lottery! We feel so proud. “I delivered a presentation by heart and someone came up to me and said Wow! How did you pull that off! I felt really passionate and great! It made me want to deliver more training. We can do more!”
We used to hate having a learning disability but now we’re proud we have a learning disability.
Her’s our message to you: Respect us please! Treat us like you yourselves would like to be treated. We are no different from you. Employ us and let us use our expertise and our wisdom to work together with you to make things better for all people with learning disabilities…
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if people with learning disabilities were offered employment to support people with learning disabilities in the community who have been in Assessment and Treatment Units as a new way forward. Let’s work together to achieve this!