Lack of activity for adults with learning disability also impacts on siblings


Ten years ago, the Mencap campaigns team produced a document setting out the lack of activity for many people with learning disabilities, A Life in the Day, Campaigns Team, Mencap, February 2002.) This continues to be a concern today for many. This US study responded to the concerns expressed by parents and professionals about the lack of regular educational–vocational activities available.

The researchers looked at a number of predictors of inactivity in individuals with learning and developmental disabilities, and also looked at how inactivity related to the well being of siblings. They were also interested in whether the lack of activity may impact on the sibling relationship.

They worked with 796 siblings of adults with learning and developmental disabilities responding to web-based survey.

They found 13% of adults with learning and developmental disabilities were without daytime activities. They also found that more emotional–behavioural and health problems in this group. In addition they found them poorly by the service system and that their parents were less able to provide care.

There was an impact on the siblings. They found the siblings reported more depressive symptoms, worse health, and less close sibling relationships. However, when the researchers controlled for characteristics predisposing people to have no activities, such inactivity no longer predicted these problems.

Doing Nothing: adults with disabilities with no daily activities and their siblings,  Lounds Taylor J & Hodapp R, in American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117, 1, 67-79.

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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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