By Neil Taylor
What matters to young people and adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders is the ability to express themselves, to be heard and understood. In fact, for many, it is the hardest challenge they face. Being able to articulate one’s desires, hopes and aspirations is the main obstacle getting in the way of living a life in which people with learning disabilities can thrive and have equal opportunities to live the lives they choose.
However, the challenge is ours, not theirs. People are not disabled by these challenges — we disable them by our lack of ability to understand them, our lack of patience and determination to give adults with learning disabilities the voice they require or the means to express themselves. We do not equip ourselves with the tools and the skills to enable us to empower others to overcome their communication challenges.
Social Care Future (#socialcarefuture) is a movement for a change in the social care sector. They recently led their own inquiry called ‘Whose social care is it anyway?’, where they heard from 500 people who talked about their experience of social care. Sadly, the majority of people they heard from and who drew on social care support reported that their lives were restricted. The 500 people were asked what they thought needed to change and what their ideas for social care in the future should like and would mean living life the way they want to. The five key changes that would unlock an equal life were as follows:
As we celebrate Learning Disability week, and in particular the artistic talent and creativity of our Members and staff, many of those messages resonate with us at Langdon and are the key drivers underpinning our new three-year strategy. They are a salutary reminder of our obligation to apply as much creativity as we can to enabling all our members to be able to express themselves and their aspirations to the full. To that end, Langdon is committed to the implementation of a new strengths-based tool called I.ROC, which will lead to each of its members being able to formulate their own outcomes-based personal development plan.
In this way we hope to enable our members to fulfil their own personal individual ambitions in life -this is what we mean when we talk about ‘Livingness’.