To read on Mencap website:
Note: In the UK, the term of ‘Learning disability’ is used instead of ‘Intellectual disability’.
Early years – what we think
All children with a learning disability have a right to be supported to enable them to live full and independent lives in the future.
Our vision is a future where every child with a learning disability has the best possible start in life.
We want every family to get the support that meets their needs, and helps them to meet their child’s needs, as early as possible.
There are 15,000 children born each year who will have a learning disability.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are currently around 119,000 children under the age of 7 who have a learning disability.
Children with a learning disability are more likely to face issues like:
- physical and mental health problems
- family poverty
- difficulty at school.
Support during the early years – often called ‘early intervention’ – has been proven to boost early development. Yet, while we know how important this early support is, many children with a learning disability are not receiving the support they need.
Barriers to getting the right early support
Families have told us that they’ve experienced difficulty with:
- finding out what their child’s needs are, once they suspect a problem
- finding good quality information about their child’s needs and opportunities to develop and access support
- finding good quality support to meet their needs of their child’s needs in the early years
- finding professionals who have the right skills and attitudes to work well together to meet their child’s additional needs.
What we want
We want all children with a learning disability to have high-quality, inclusive services, as well as the specialist support they might need to boost their development.
Families and carers must also get the support they need to help them meet their child’s needs.
For this to be possible:
- support must be offered as soon as needs are identified
- there must be enough funding to ensure accessible, high-quality early intervention services for children with a learning disability and their families
- mainstream services like nurseries and schools must be inclusive for children with a learning disability, with early years professionals trained to meet a wide range of needs
- the advice and information that families get should tell them what their rights are and put them in touch with other families and people with a learning disability.
- support for children with a learning disability must look at the needs of the whole family and be planned with them.
We are working on a range of related issues to help make sure children get the best start in life.