Life For A Learning Disabled Person 2016

Monday 18th April 2016 saw the start of a UK campaign to raise awareness of the thousands of learning disabled people currently being held against their wishes in assessment and treatment units. Often, these units are hundreds of miles from the person’s home. The average time spent in an ATU (assessment and treatment unit) is 5.5 years. The average cost per week for treatment in an ATU is £3500.

The campaign will be presenting a number of stories over the next week. Stories of people who have been trapped in their unit for years. Stories of people who have managed to be freed from their detention but still bear the scars of their experience and sadly, stories of people who have died whilst in the care of their unit.

We make no apologies that the stories are relentlessly bleak. Life in an ATU is relentlessly bleak. The stories are painful to read and you may feel like giving up on the blog. Please don’t. We feel it is important that the reality of Eden, Stephen, Tianze, Thomas, Joshua, Jack, Ryan, Connor, Eddie and Robert’s lives are heard.

They need you to hear their story.

Please check out the other pages of this blog. Watch and listen to the selection of ATU films and songs. Read a mother’s poetry. Check out Sam Sly’s plans for life outside an ATU. Absorb Chris Hatton’s ATU facts and figures and if you would like to contribute to the blog, please let us know.

And please, as the 7 Days of Action progresses and you read the stories, ask yourselves, what can I do to help these young people have the life they deserve.

Thank you.





6 thoughts on “Life For A Learning Disabled Person 2016

  1. Appalling how this is still happening. I feel a persons behaviour is not addressed in the proper way it should be. It seems it’s not right but a behaviour is a communication tool it expresses a feeling a cry for help and it is the only way for this person to say hey my life it’s not right and hey you are not listening or understand my feelings so what happens I am given medication to control my outbursts but this makes me more angry or I become a different person. So what I am saying is this is totally puts it all out of line and please look into the persons anger and communicate and monitor there feelings because they are connecting with behaviour traits because yes they may feel unwell yes they may have pain and may be they do not like what you are doing for them. One to one support and some listening skills is not a miss here. I have had a lengthy couple of years with behaviour from my son who is 42 years and he was totally anxious I asked for a referral by GP and he did see a specialist re stomach issues finding gastritis of the stomach and bowel issues all relating to anxiety also which is all caused with behaviour so this is my concerns. He was assessed for autism last year, after a fight for manyb years, he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and now care plans have been done so you can see links here. This needs urgent attention it needs better communication skills and serviced need to be more friendly to these people with Learning disabilities and autism. It’s appalling and needs addressing now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel so lucky when I read the struggle that so many people have with their autistic sons and daughters when they are ready to become independent. My son is 34 and was diagnosed with learning disability and autism at the age of 7. I’m not saying that for us it has been a bed of roses all the way, but at the moment, we are waiting for the social services here in Bracknell to allocate a shared sheltered accommodation for my son. In fact, the house is already a reality, not far from where we live and we’ve had the first meeting with all the professionals dealing with this matter.
    They’ve all been fantastic in their support, planning how best to introduce my son to independent living because it’s going to be very hard for him to move out.
    It is unbelievable that things can be so different for people with disabilities in different parts of the country.


  3. Back in 1982/3 I worked & was later a live-in house parent at one of the Mackintyre Schools for the Learning Disabled. Which, rather frighteningly offered care of the learning Disabled for Life! We had the younger kids up to 15, they then went on to another place in Bedfordshire. My marriage had shattered I was pretty depressed, I felt like I was in Hell. I spent 6 weeks in psychiatric hospital then returned to my job. On returning I started to see things more clearly. The first thing that struck me was that the kids managed to be reasonably happy, it wasn’t a bad place, however, to me it was the staff who really needed treatment. The principle was a dipso who kept a tea tray on her desk, the teapot filled with sherry, there were girls of 18, ill-trained behaving like little Hitler’s with the kids. The kids showed me how much freer they were emotionally than us , so called normals. I had a massive row with my immediate boss who a total uncaring tit, & was fired, though I insisted on completing my probationary period.I can honestly say I learned more from those kids about inhibited my emotional life was than anywhere else I’ve been. Of course, these people deserve as full & varied a life as the rest of us! And with love & support(Not incarciration) they are capable of achieve as much if not more than most of us.Nick Simons


  4. How could anyone imagine the answer for people with difficulty understanding and communicating is to take them away from friends and family to be with people they don’t know in a unit which bears no resemblance to any previous living situation with no power to affect what happens. We’d all be distressed and disturbed and will people ever understand why even when they get home – if they do. The answer is proper responses in the community to help understand, support and help people develop a life that works for them. The answer is learning from what has worked for others and NOT to ignore families who do know their child well and care.


  5. Sadly this happens all too often becausre the medical model of care is used ie drugs to reduce “symptoms”. The holistic model should be adopted. whete. Behaviour. is. Communication. For neurotypical children and young people with mental health issues, the. situation is the same where they are stuck in a “specialist unit” for years. inappropriate. medication , no fresh air, exercise healtjy food, exercise or home leave. The. impact of this on.bebsviour and totally inappropriate behaviour management. creates. behaviour that is used to justify the incarceration. My autistic kid was. in. this. for. 8. Months
    It had a bad effect on both of us and she missed a year of education and when I got her out her behaviour was more challenging as she was so angry about her experiences in the unit. So instead of spending money on imprisonment maybe give them access to psychological therapy occupational therapy speech and language so they can learn to better communicate and expresd and. Manage. Feelings. Give parents and carers oourses to understand and cope with and reduce challenging behaviour. My kid would not have been locked up if she had behaved in socially expected ways. They didn’t. understand. She. Was. Autistic. So get. Outpatient diagnosis don’t agree. To. Assessment unit. If. Person is. Not. Sectioned. They cant force them there. If they are sectioned legally challenge. Just try to not let ypur kids get into that system the reality is the. Medical model and they won’t help you they will make things worse.


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