People with learning difficulties face a threat of isolation

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It is said that we have to continue learning throughout our lives. However, not all people can do it easily – some of us have learning difficulties. Now a new research from the University of Southampton showed that these people are often in a danger of isolation.

Despite many informal groups, some people with learning difficulty may find themselves socially isolated. Image credit: Bert Kaufmann via Wikimedia, CC BY 2.0

Despite many informal groups, some people with learning difficulty may find themselves socially isolated. Image credit: Bert Kaufmann via Wikimedia, CC BY 2.0

This study has shown that people with learning difficulties are often left to organize their own support groups. Scientists took a look into lives of these people in south Hampshire, UK, and found that they are gathering, seeking for solidary, support and friendship. Dr Andrew Power, author of the study, said: “The last five years has seen a move away from communal day care centres, towards user led, individual support. This switch from more static, inflexible care has been largely positive, but it has also left a gap where people are in danger from isolation, with no focal point for their care.”

This study revealed that people with learning difficulty gather in usual social places, such as pubs or leisure centres. They share their experiences and help each other with issues that all of them are very familiar with. Even though scientists took a look into the lives of only 12 people with the condition, they also observed four informal support groups and help open discussions to find out what people are looking for in their informal gatherings.

Scientists found that personalization of the services did help these people to take control of their lives better, but took away the social factor that group services offered. This means that in places where these informal gatherings do not take place and centres, helping people with learning difficulties, are removed, these individuals are facing threat of isolation.

However, self-organized gatherings are taking place in many areas, which should help these people develop stronger social bonds.  Therefore, scientists do not advocate for returning of the formal centres. Instead, they argue that more ways, in which people can help each other, have to be established. Furthermore, more research has to be done on the matter. But threat of isolation is real and should be addressed at least by informing more of these individuals about the informal gatherings, their location and benefits.

Source: southampton.ac.uk