Learning disabilities: overview
Learning disability is a lifelong condition and not an illness as such, although it may be accompanied by physical, psychological and psychiatric illness and disability. The term encompasses a range of conditions and levels of severity. Many people with learning disabilities can be integrated into, and make a positive contribution to, wider society.
- Learning disability is a lifelong condition, which impacts on the individuals, educational, social, economic, and life choices. There is a high prevalence of communication and swallowing disabilities occurring in this population.
- Communication difficulties are associated with increased prevalence of challenging behaviour.
- There are critical periods in the life of a person with a learning disability, where additional speech and language therapy intervention may be needed. For example, primary to secondary school, death of a member of the family etc.
- As part of all service delivery there is emerging practice and developing roles. Within learning disability this might include building capacity in other services and the wider community and helping services to make reasonable adjustments.
For further information read our learning disabilities fact sheet
View learning disabilities sections:
- Introduction: characteristics, aetiology, vulnerability and risk issues.
- Role of speech and language therapy: assessment, diagnosis and management.
- Prevalence and incidence statistics
- National policy context: national policies, government reports and legislation from across the UK.
- Guidelines and supporting resources
- RCSLT Bulletin feature articles
- Evidence and research
- Useful contacts: RCSLT advisers, RCSLT clinical excellence networks, key organisations.
- Reference list
- Website contributors and date of last review
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
- Language disorder
- Mental health