People with learning disabilities can feel a sense of connection by going to football matches, especially at clubs that welcome them creatively
Novel about a dying man on a road trip with his son who has a learning disability
People with learning disabilities can be particularly susceptible to this type of encounter
This article celebrates one of the most important books in the history of intellectual disability, The Cloak of Competence: Stigma in the Lives of the Mentally Retarded, by the American anthropologist Robert Edgerton. First published in 1967, and revised and updated in 1993, the book is based on long-term research into more than 100 people with intellectual disability who had left a Californian institution in 1961. Edgerton was interested in their everyday lives, activities, thoughts and emotions at a time when there was little organised support outside of hospitals, and considerable doubt that people could survive in the community. Edgerton interviewed the 15 individuals up to 1982, 20 years after he began his research. He developed several concepts, including the ‘cloak of competence’ and the ‘role of benefactors’. An important aspect of the book is the attention Edgerton pays to the voice of people themselves. This makes this serious academic book full of life-affirming, tragic, heartbreaking, moving and funny anecdotes. Its accounts of everyday struggles would be recognised by professionals even today
David O’Driscoll reviews an exhibition on the history of two long-stay hospitals for people with learning disabilities
Psychotherapist David O’Driscoll reviews Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving
David O'Driscoll discusses the importance discussing death with people who have learning disabilities.
Examining the past reveals links with the present and enables reflection on how things have changed and what has remained the same. This article relates the story of a young woman, Gladys, who was institutionalised in the 1940s. The story is based on her case notes from a Hertfordshire institution for people with learning disabilities, although there are gaps in the records, particularly after her discharge. The names of people and places have been changed to protect their identities. The article shows how the authorities made efforts to support Gladys to live a life outside the institution, before this notion had gained wide currency and reflects on what has changed for young women with learning disabilities in the intervening years.
Is it helpful if workers supporting people with learning disabilities show pity, asks psychotherapist David O’Driscoll.
Professionals can help clients to acknowledge and deal with feelings of envy about their fellow service users
David O’Driscoll considers the concept of mid-life crisis and how it applies to people with learning disabilities.