David O’Driscoll

Picture shows the view from inside the sensory room at Watford FC for people with learning disabilities and autism

Watford FC opens its arms to people with learning disabilities

People with learning disabilities can feel a sense of connection by going to football matches, especially at clubs that welcome them creatively


Book review: Census

Novel about a dying man on a road trip with his son who has a learning disability


Transference: safeguarding service users who are vulnerable to exploitation

People with learning disabilities can be particularly susceptible to this type of encounter

Celebrating a classic text: The Cloak of Competence revisited

Celebrating a classic text: The Cloak of Competence revisited

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


Exhibition review: You’d Hear Them Jingle in Clitheroe

David O’Driscoll reviews an exhibition on the history of two long-stay hospitals for people with learning disabilities

Book review: Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

Psychotherapist David O’Driscoll reviews Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving

Helping people with a learning disability face dying

David O'Driscoll discusses the importance discussing death with people who have learning disabilities.


Familiarity and strangeness: a case study of one woman with learning disabilities in...

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.

‘We do not want your pity’

Is it helpful if workers supporting people with learning disabilities show pity, asks psychotherapist David O’Driscoll.


How to overcome the ‘green-eyed monster’

Professionals can help clients to acknowledge and deal with feelings of envy about their fellow service users

The man who went to bed for a year

David O’Driscoll considers the concept of mid-life crisis and how it applies to people with learning disabilities.