Review finds no consensus on developmental or behavioural outcomes for children of parents with learning disabilities

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The authors of this review set out to take a comprehensive look at the literature relating to the outcomes for Children of parents with learning disability to test assumptions that such children are at risk of poor outcomes.

The authors identified 26 studies from a database and reference search published in one year from March 2010 to March 2011.

They identified two groups of studies. The first looked at the association between parental learning disability and child outcomes where there was significant disadvantage. Some findings suggested that where there was low parental intellectual capacity this could negatively impact child outcomes. Others however suggested that child development in these situations approached the expected norms for the general population.

They also found a second, small group of studies which explored narrative accounts of childhood. These studies found social exclusion, bullying, and stigma were commonplace for the children involved. The studies also suggested that removal from parental care was a significant risk for this group of children.

They conclude that there is little consensus in the literature about likely developmental or behavioural outcomes. The studies they looked at usually involved children from clinical populations or other high-risk groups. The studies also typically focused on young children rather than following them through the whole of childhood and young adulthood.

Children of parents with intellectual disability: Facing poor outcomes or faring okay? Collings S & Llewellyn G, in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37, 1 , 65-82

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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