Transgender Easy Read Guide & LD in the News.

Transgender Easy Read Guide

Following on from the Spectrum is Pink (and yellow, and blue and Green…) GLLDCOP blog, Choice Support launched a new Transgender easy read guide at the Learning Disability England conference in Manchester at the end of January.

The guide was produced jointly with CMG and CHANGE after discussions on this issue affecting people with learning disabilities and the lack of accessible information on this topic.

CHANGE run focus groups with people with disabilities from both CMG and Choice Support, in Croydon and Wakefield respectively. The focus groups explored questions, and looked at the research and other information about transgender.

The information within the guide came directly from people with disabilities and discusses the notions of sex and gender, being transgender and signposting to organisations that can help people transitioning. People from the transgender community were also involved in the discussions and they have contributed to the review of the guide before its publication.

Thinking Out Loud

Read social work student Rena Ahad‘s Supported Loving blog on her project on LGBTI in the LD Community “People with learning disabilities are just like you and me….defining themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning who they are sexually…Do you know what I’ve learnt? People with learning disabilities are just like anybody else! Just like you and me. They want to go out, have relationships, fall in love, have sex. Even defining themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and falling into the questioning box where they are not sure who they are sexually.” Access the full blog and more about the project here.

An Autistic Valentine’s.

With surprise gifts, full restaurants and unwritten social rules, many people on the autistic spectrum can find the expectations of Valentine’s Day overwhelming. Twenty six year old Andy makes YouTube videos to improve understanding of autism and is engaged to Nicola, his girlfriend of five years, who is not autistic. Andy talked to The National Autistic Society about his experiences of Valentine’s Day as an autistic person and shares his top tips for making Valentine’s Day special for autistic people and their partners…

Learning Disability and Ageing.

“Dementia affects everyone differently”: Q&A with Karen Watchman. How can we recognise dementia in people with learning disabilities – what are the signs? Dementia affects everyone differently. It is important to remember that for people with a learning disability, just like anyone else, different types of dementia affect different parts of the brain initially, so this will lead to different changes in behaviour. Often in a person with a learning disability this is a subtle change and is not obviously a change in memory as is often assumed. For example, we sometimes see someone having difficulty with stairs, steps, or stepping up and down the kerb crossing the road which is due to a change in 3D perception. A change in daily living activities or routines should always be investigated.

LD in the News.

  • Andrew Hensman discusses the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act.  Meet Andrew Hensman, chair of the National Autistic Society Essex Branch an elected member of the Braintree District Council. Andrew is also co-chair of the Essex All Age Autism Partnership Board that was set up in response to the Autism Act.
  • Closure of Hospital for young people with Complex Needs. The Priory Group has announced it will close a hospital for teenagers in High Wycombe after the health and care regulator rated it inadequate.  Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the Buckinghamshire facility, which caters for children aged 13 to 17 with learning disabilities and/or autism, was “not adequately equipped to care for young people with complex needs”.  Read more at the Guardian.
  • Inside the campaign to make sure all health staff get autism training. The Government last year committed to including autism in plans for mandatory training for healthcare staff. This welcome move followed concerted campaigning from many autistic people and families, most notably Paula McGowan, whose son, Oliver, died in November 2016.  Paula believes his death could have been prevented if doctors and nurses had understood the adjustments he needed for his autism and learning disabilities. Paula’s campaign has a new website and you can follow Paula on Twitter. She recently moved to Australia with her husband but continues to actively campaign for all NHS staff to have the understanding about autism and learning disability they need.  Read the full NAS article here.
  • What’s behind the rise in Tasering? A recent article has highlight the disproportionate number of people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues who are Tasered by police every year. Recent Home Office statistics on police “use of force” show that people perceived as having a “mental disability” are more likely to be subjected to a Taser (or similar device) than other forms of force, such as handcuffing, restraint or pepper spray.  Human rights campaigners and mental health charities feel Tasers are overused. “We’ve got serious concerns about Tasers becoming the norm for day-to-day policing,” says Oliver Feeley-Sprague, police and security programme director, Amnesty International UK. “We’re particularly concerned at the alarming rise in overuse against vulnerable and minority groups, including on people with mental health issues and BAME people.”  Read the full story here.

There’s still Time …

Let’s change things!!! Sign the petition to amend the Health & Social Care Act to include loving/sexual relationships. Social Care inspections do not currently include specific reference to relationships and sex, making it possible for a service or support provider to receive an ‘outstanding’ rating, whilst neglecting an essential part of people’s lives and the human experience. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has stated that mandatory questions on sex and relationships cannot be introduced for inspectors without amending the Health & Social Care Act. So, please sign, share and promote this petition to get some momentum and discussion going to ensure that people with learning and developmental disabilities have the same rights and opportunities for love, sex, intimacy and companionship as those without. Finding love is hard at the best of times but without support and/or opportunity it’s impossible!
Share the petition link –

Take part in the first national survey of people with a learning disability in 15 years! The Mencap survey provides people with a learning disability the chance to share their experiences and what’s important to them, including sections on friendships and relationships as well as health, employment and inclusion. It was fully co-produced by people with a learning disability and the findings will be shared later in the summer. Take part here. 

Events and Conferences

Learning Disability Today London 2019.  28 November 2019. ILEC Conference Centre, Earls Court, London. Complimentary tickets are available for people with learning disabilities and their unpaid carers. Please email if you feel you are eligible.  Book here. Early Bird Delegate rate is £35 + VAT and  Early Bird Student tickets are £10 + VAT.

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