Caring for those who have learning disabilities and autism can be extremely tough, but incredibly rewarding – for both carer and people who deal with these everyday struggles.
These few things to consider outlined below can offer some helpful advice for family members who are carers, and likewise, those who are considering carer or support worker roles.
The most important thing to remember is people with learning disabilities and autism are exactly that – people. And just like everyone else, they are bright, funny, kind, and need independence and understanding just like anybody else.
Be understanding, not controlling. People with learning disabilities and autism need to be in control of their own lives, and it’s important they have the freedom to make their own decisions. Offer practical advice when it’s needed, and let people make their own mistakes – those that have minimal risk – for them to learn and grow.
Allow freedom of choice, not reprimand. We’re all people and we all do the wrong thing from time to time. When working with people with learning disabilities and autism, it’s important to respect the choices they make and help them recover from losses and learn from bad choices.
Observe dignity, not difference. Equality is allowing people to have access to the same opportunities, not treating everyone the same. Of course, with any learning disability or mental health disorder, a degree of intuition should be used – but neither should you deny anyone their right to try something out. Keeping dignity is very important in a carer/patient relationship, and can strengthen trust and build a life-long friendship.
Respect individuality, not ‘one size fits all’. Sometimes it might seem the simplest thing to apply one strategy to one person with a disability to another with the same or similar disability, but the truth is everyone responds in their own way to a variety of strategies. It’s important to learn that every individual has their own personality, strengthens, fears, and outlook on life.
Be responsive to privacy, not invasion. Being dependent on a carer doesn’t mean losing your independence, and a large part of this comes down to privacy and respecting the rights of someone who wants their own space and time. Not only is this good for personal morale, it also builds trust and allows freedom to grow and learn.
At All Kinds of Minds, we offer free, informative resources for family, carers, and healthcare professionals. Together we can support those with learning disabilities and autism and help them lead a better life.