Here to help with questions relating to learning disability and its impact on family carers
The following letter from Rescare member Duncan Drown was submitted to the Guardian earlier this year.
To the Editor of the Guardian
Re the article in the Society Section 14.8.13: would the often demanding and complex needs of the children described be bettered served if the term used to describe them were changed from the euphemistic “learning disabilities” (favoured by Mencap and others) or worse, “learning difficulties”, to “mental and/or other disabilities”?
After such a first step, a move away from being the subjects of the Department of Education, for which they can only be an anomalous segment, towards the concern of the Departments of Health and linked Social Services, might result in better outcomes for them, their parents and carers and possibly encourage related research into the causes of their various conditions,
an area which gets little interest it would appear, from Mencap and other supportive groups.
Brother of a mentally disabled adult
The question of language and terminology is a vexed one. Rescare is aware that in most health and social contexts the phrase ‘learning disabilities’ will be encountered, and that ‘learning difficulties’ should be used in educational contexts; we also recognise that certain sections of the media use the two terms interchangably! Additionally, within UK legislation, the term ‘mental impairment’ is used; this distinguishes ‘mental’ from ‘physical’ impairment, but conflates issues of mental health and mental capacity. The phrase ‘intellectual impairment’ in formal use in some other English-speaking countries will now also be heard. And of course, the Mental Capacity Act refers to people ‘lacking capacity’…
If you have an opinion on this (or any other issue) and would like it to be considered for publication in this section of our website, please let us know.