There are many barriers to people with learning disabilities becoming parents. Published research describing the experience of parents with a learning disability suggests that these include planning for both pregnancy as well as for parenthood.
Studies have also shown however that the provision of the right support at the right time can enable parents with learning disabilities to provide a secure and loving environment for their child.
This study describes the experiences of six parents to illustrate a range of issues relevant to informed decision-making about parenthood. These issues include: knowledge of contraception, the development of parenting skills and the importance of social support.
The authors’ analysis of the issues raised identified some key themes – for example, the combination of family support and responsive services was identified as critical to the development of a positive parenting context.
The authors suggest that the stories highlighted in the study reinforce the need for professionals and support staff working with young people with learning disabilities to ensure that good quality information is available about contraception, pregnancy and parenting, and that this is made available in the context of a supportive environment.
Planned pregnancy, planned parenting: enabling choice for adults with a learning disability, Conder, J et al., in British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39: 105–112.