About learning disabilities

It is estimated that there are currently about 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK. There are many types of ‘learning disability’ and whilst there can be many causes, sometimes the cause is never known.

A learning disability is not like mental illness; it is an organic condition that affects a person’s ability to understand new or complex information, learn new skills and cope independently, all to varying degrees depending on the person and how their disability affects them individually.

Mencap, the learning disability charity, describes learning disabilities as a “reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.”

The UK Department of Health gives the following definition: “a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information, to learn new skills (impaired intelligence) along with a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning). The onset of disability is considered to have started before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development…” As an independent charity we believe that, with the right kind of support, people can experience a positive and rewarding life. Whilst some people need support with most or all everyday tasks throughout their lives, many people with learning disabilities are able to live quite independently with minimal support using an enabling or coaching approach.