A study from 2015 shows that quality of relationships is central to enjoyment of life, including sub themes on the importance of affection and companionship, distress at lack of closeness and anxiety about the ability to satisfy others.
This article will focus on one of the sub-themes mentioned above: affection and companionship. Because having a learning disability doesn’t have to stop you from having a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
We’d like to share the experience of a young man with learning disabilities from the United States. His name is Adam and the interview was published in the UK Edition of The Guardian.
“I was nine when I met my first girlfriend. Since then, I’ve had quite a few. I’m not shy and I’m independent, so I’ve had a lot of opportunities to meet people. I don’t find it difficult, but there are a lot of other young people with learning disabilities who do.
The problem is that no one is going to say to the person supporting them, “I’m trying to find a girlfriend, can you help me?” Things don’t work like that. Who is going to say they’re lonely? I think there are also worries about people with learning disabilities having relationships. You shouldn’t wrap people up in cotton wool just because they’ve got a disability. You’ve got to let people live.
I started internet dating five years ago and it’s a good way to get talking to people. Facebook is also good. But I think young people also need more places to go. I’ve met people just by going to the pub and through work. But it’s not always easy for people with learning disabilities to get around. Sometimes you have to take five buses to get somewhere, or the buses run at stupid times.
I’ve also set up my own social club with other people, supported by United Response. About 30 people come along and we chat and I do a bit of DJing. There should be more clubs like this, and I also think the government should send out a survey to young people with learning disabilities to ask them what they want to do. Lots of people are stuck doing the same thing. They need to have the opportunity to try something new.”
The lack of entertainment for such young people can be a problem, like Adam says. Luckily, The Pelican Project has an ever changing calendar of things going on!
- Making ‘stuff’ at The FabLab (Exeter Library)
- Tours and events at Exeter Museum (RAMM)
- Teaching and learning with Exeter College Health &
- Social care group
- Multi-Arts days and jam sessions at Exeter Phoenix
- Music, dance and theatre visits across Exeter
- Cycling at Exeter Quay
Accessible rambling on Dartmoor
- ‘Sensory City’ exploration
Sensory Theatre workshops
Promoting disability awareness
- And let’s not forget our parties and Pub Crawls!