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Health & Social Care careers

Social Care: Learning Disabilities

Why get involved with people with learning difficulties?

Learning difficulties hamper people’s day-to-day lives. They can prevent them from excelling in school, finding work and interacting with other people.

If you pursue a career in this area of social care, you will be providing vital support to people with learning difficulties, empowering them, and helping them to live a fulfilling, independent and liberated life.

What roles exist in this field?

This area of social care is all about providing care and support to people who are affected by conditions which impede their ability to learn, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, Asperger’s, autism, Tourette’s, as well as rarer disorders like Angelman Syndrome.

According to the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD), there are “1.2 million people in the UK with a learning disability.”* Consequently, a broad range of careers are available in this area.  

Learning disability nurses, social workers, speech and language therapists and special educational needs (SEN) teachers can all play an important role in helping people with learning difficulties to flourish in educational environments and generally in their everyday lives.

Often these different professionals will liaise with each other and collaborate from time to time. Indeed, each and every person who is coping with a learning difficulty will receive help from a broad network of support. 

What will my role be?

Learning disability nurses and social care workers are likely to work as part of a Community Learning Disability Team. They may provide support to service users in a range of environments, from schools, colleges and community centres, to primary care trusts and service users’ homes.

Each individual service user will have very specific needs. Consequently, you’ll spend your time meeting with them, speaking to them, building a relationship with them and learning about their needs. This assessment process is all about figuring out where they most require support. You might also be using different techniques to establish the extent of people’s conditions, such as IQ tests and psychometric assessments.

Furthermore, you will be making the important decisions about what assistance specific service users will require, such as access to different learning resources, speech and language therapy sessions or admission to a special school.

People with learning disabilities may get frustrated from time to time, and it will be your job to reassure them, offer them emotional support and help them to integrate seamlessly into the social situations that they encounter.

Whether you work as part of a Community Learning Disability Team, or you take an alternative route such as a speech and language therapist of SEN teacher, the effect of this on the learning disability community is immense. Not only is this subsector incredibly important and rewarding, there’s a massive variety of positions available, so it might well be the right career path for you.