An introduction to learning disability

Most people living with a learning disability were born with the condition or acquired it shortly after birth. Common symptoms for someone who has a learning disability include having difficulty understanding, learning and remembering which can make it harder for them to communicate, learn new things, and sometimes to undertake physical tasks.

There are three different types of learning disability. These are mild, moderate and severe. Someone with a mild learning disability may not need a lot of support from their friends and family. Someone living with a severe or profound learning disability may need a lot more support and in some cases, may have high care needs and have difficulties with communication, personal care and mobility.

People living with other conditions such as Downs’s syndrome may also have a learning disability too.

Caring for someone with a learning difficulty

Most families care for a person with a learning disability from birth. The amount of care and support provided will depend upon the severity of the learning disability and how this can impact someone’s everyday life. This can result in families and friends supporting someone for many years with little or no support.

There are a range of support services available for families and friends supporting a loved one who has a learning disability. These include -

Derbyshire Adult Carer Support Service

Derbyshire Carers Association have a variety of support services that have been designed to assist Carers with the practical, physical and emotional impact of care giving.  We can help you create a support plan and prepare for the future by connecting you to relevant services and giving you choice and control over the support you receive. 

Derbyshire Community Connectors

Community Connectors can support people with a learning difficulty to be active in their communities. This can be through voluntary placements, local groups or other groups and settings. The service is available for up to 12 weeks.

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have a Learning Disability community service available to help keep people live well. There are a range of professionals and teams for a wide range of needs including Clinical Psychologists and Occupational Therapists who can help families and Carers understand behaviour and  facilitate the development of skills.


Learning Disability and Autism matters.

  • Learning Disability Carers on-line forum. DCA host a fortnightly Microsoft Teams for family Carers of adults with learning disability. This runs every other Thursday from 4pm – 5.30pm. It is an informal session where carers can share information and support each other.
    We do often have speakers as well for part of the session. Adult Social Care, Learning Disability Health Liaison Services and the Voluntary Sector have all been represented and family Carers welcome the opportunity to ask direct questions to senior managers.
    Peter Dawson, Learning Disability and Autism Community Engagement worker at DCA hosts this forum and will send Carers and invite on a regular basis should they wish to join. His email address is

  • Learning Disability Partnership Board. There are three local Learning Disability Partnership Boards throughout the county and there is always space for interested learning disability Carers to join one in their area. They meet, face to face, once every two months, on a Thursday morning in different parts of the county.
    The aim of these Boards is to improve the day to day lives of people with learning by interested parties working together and sharing ideas and information. Dawn Nash at County Offices can be contacted for further information at or Peter Dawson, email address above, is also available to give you an informal overview.

  • Derbyshire Autism Partnership Board and the Experts by Experience forum meet on-line every other month and welcome attendance from autistic people, they can be contacted on the following email:

  • The Good Health Group. This is a group of people with learning disabilities, Carers and health and social care professionals who meet to share information and health concerns that particularly effect people with learning disabilities. These meeting happen every two months and alternate between being on-line and being face-to-face at The Post Mill Centre in South Normanton.
    The best person to contact for further information is the Chair of the Good Health Group: Rachel Johnson 

  • Amber Valley Learning Disability Family Carers Group. This group usually meets on the last Wednesday of the month at the Field Terrace Community Centre in Ripley from 10.30am - 12noon. Coffee, tea and biscuits are enjoyed and the group often has a speaker on current issues relating to learning disability and care. New comers are always welcome. Peter Dawson can be contacted for further information


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