Ahead of Learning Disability Week (19 – 25 August), the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability have published their 2012 statistics on the lives of people living with learning disabilities. There are 26,117 adults with learning disabilities who are known to the local authorities in Scotland. Other statistics in the report are worrying – for example, the number of people with learning disabilities enrolling on further education courses has decreased by almost 300 per year since 2011. We could also look back to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s 2011 report on disability harassment. This report looked at ten case studies of disabled people who had experienced extreme, horrific abuse and/or were murdered. Seven out of those ten cases were people with learning disabilities. This is close to a figure given by Mencap – 8 out of 10 children with a learning disability are bullied.
It is perhaps not surprising then that the theme of this year’s Learning Disability Week is ‘superheroes’. People with learning disabilities are being asked to think about who their ‘superhero’ is, and why. Take a look at Mencap’s website and you will see that not only is this occasion already giving people with learning disabilities the opportunity to feel ‘strong’ as they dress up as well-known superhero characters, it also encourages them to be able to recognise and think about where the people who provide safety and strength in their own lives are. With at least 50 per cent of adults with learning disabilities living at home, it is no wonder that the ‘superhero’ focus so far has been mainly on family members.