ADD / ADHD, Auditory, Current Affairs, Dyslexia

Parents with Learning Disabilities Having Their Children Taken Into Care

A report on the BBC yesterday suggested that about half of all parents with Learning Difficulties (LD) had their children taken in care by social services. This caught my attention for a couple of reasons. Firstly they did not identify the nature of the learning difficulties so presumably included people with dyslexia. Secondly if the figure is true then there needs to be a lot more support given to the parents or social services and the courts need to understand more about the capabilities of adults with learning problems.
After some digging I’ve found the original report. Find the Right Support [ PDF ] is well written and thoughtful 100 plus page examination of the needs of parents with learning difficulties. It is aimed at midwifes, social workers and related agencies and gives guidance on the the identification of parents with LD and the problems they may have dealing with social services. The report, like the BBC, makes no differentiation between the different types of disability bit it does make clear that intelligence, the ability to read and the ability to be a good parent are not directly connected.
The 50% figure quoted in all the news reports is used in the report but its source was actually a study done in 2005 for the NHS. Adults with Learning Difficulties in England 2003/2004 is a big study (over 9MB for the full version). Right at the beginning of the full report it says
We have decided to use ‘learning difficulties’ rather than ‘learning disabilities’ because these are the words that the people themselves said they prefer. It was used throughout the research. In this report we talk about ‘people with learning difficulties’, meaning people who since they were a child had a real difficulty in learning many things. We do not mean people who just have a specific difficulty in learning, for example, people who only have difficulty with reading which is sometimes called dyslexia.
Further on in the report they clarify things further
…we asked people whether they themselves had ‘learning disabilities’ or whether someone they lived with or supported had ‘learning disabilities’. Because we just asked people, we realised that we might end up interviewing some people who did not have learning disabilities as such, but who may have other difficulties (e.g., dyslexia). We decided to exclude people if they had been awarded a GCSE at grade C or above, an O level, an A level, a degree or HND qualification.
So the study was looking adults with severe problems or at least severely let down by the education system. Presumably this would capture large numbers of autistic people but not the majority of dyslexics.
Two and half thousand adults (16+) with learning difficulties or their carers were interviewed for the study. The results are, as you may expect, depressing.

Two thirds of people with LD who want to and are able to work are unemployed

Adults with LD are more likely to no contact with friends or family

Only one in three voted in the 2001 general election compared to 73% of non-LD adults

Half of all adults with LD are still living with their parents

On caring for children the report says:
One in fifteen of the people we interviewed (7%) had children. Of the people who had children, just over half (52%) looked after their children. Women were slightly more likely to be a parent than men (9% compared to 6%). But men and women were just as likely to be looking after their children if they had any (52% of women, 53% of men).
It is worth noting that the report doesn’t say who is looking after the children that are not with their parents. Nor is there any indication if the parents are unhappy with this arrangement.


  1. dennis c wall

    hi I’m a dad with a learning disability, and i can not get a jot and move up in, because of my disability,I dill with this day in day out. i can’t give my kids what they wont, or my wife what she wonts. I’m not completely stupid but I’m not the smartest. I been asking my self what my future hold for me and my kids I need to know what can I do

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