What is a Learning Disability

Having a learning disability (LD) means that:

  • You may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, like getting dressed, shopping, making a meal, getting around, having a job, understanding simple instructions or working out problems
  • You may need more time to perform tasks
  • You may have speech difficulties, not understand fully what other people are saying, or not be able to speak at all  
  • You may get anxious about everyday problems like the bus being late, a letter arriving that you can't read, or someone asking you to do something you have never done before.


Different kinds of learning disability

Learning disability appears in many different forms in children, often apparent from birth, and sometimes appearing to develop in infancy.

Familiar disorders include:

  • Down's syndrome
  • Austism
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy.

However, there are many other forms of learning disability which may be less familiar to the public.

Learning disabilities range from mild to severe. In addition, physical difficulties and health problems can often co-exist, making a very complex picture when considering needs. It is not unusual for one person to have several disorders co-existing. Some examples include:

  • Down's syndrome, autism and heart problems
  • Autism, epilepsy and dyspraxia
  • Cerebral palsy with associated learning and physical disabilities
  • Cerebral palsy with just physical disabilities
  • Asperger syndrome with a high IQ and mental health problems.


Effects of learning disability

Different forms and combinations of learning and physical disability require different levels of support, from a little extra help to support independent living to 24-hour residential care.

Loneliness, isolation, unemployment and depression are often significant problems for adults with disabilities and there is little provision for support. There are estimated to be more than 2,500 people in Reading with a learning disability, but only around 450 received support in 2013/14 from the local authority.

Only 5% of people with learning disability have a job, even though 65% want to work. It is difficult to have a purpose in life if you have no job, don't feel useful, or have little independence.

Learning disabilities have no respect for class or income, but families on low incomes living in disadvantaged areas of the town have less resources in terms of energy, opportunity or emotional resilience to help them to access support. 


Reading Mencap and learning disability

Reading Mencap excels in providing information, support, activity and leisure services for people with learning disabilities and their families. To find out more about the services we provide, please see Who We Are.