It is without doubt that caring for someone with a learning
disability can bring an abundance of happiness; however it can at times be
worrying, stressful, hard work and overwhelming. It has been my experience that
parents/carers, siblings and even grandparents require, at times, extra support
in order to process their thoughts and feelings. The benefit of coming to us is
that you are able to discuss the mixed emotions in a confidential,
non-judgemental environment, as it is often hard to discuss these feelings with
other family members.
Acceptance of diagnosis - The news that your child has a learning disability can bring feelings of shock and disbelief. The need for further information is vital. It is a very uncertain time as ‘learning disability’ covers a wide range of presenting issues. Parents and other family members will be keen to establish what the learning disability is, how this will manifest in the child and what this will mean in the long term. Discussing these feelings with a qualified counsellor can help to process these feelings and come to a place of acceptance.
Concerns about physical/mental health of the person with a learning disability – We all worry about our children, regardless of their age, but it is especially true if they have any health concerns. Counselling provides the parent/carer with time to explore these concerns confidentially therefore without unnecessarily worrying other family members.
Stress associated with caring roles - Caring for someone with a learning disability is a lifelong role and, as with parenting any child into adulthood, there are times of difficulties, such as difficult behaviours and restriction on your free time. Parents can become overwhelmed and stressed, which is natural for any caring role. As with any other family unit, many other problematic issues can arise such as sibling rivalry, relationship breakdowns, debt worries, substance misuse, etc. Offering you the time and space to tell your story in a confidential, non-judgemental environment will help to improve your relationships with others and feel happier about yourself and your circumstances.
Moving from school to adult services - Another time that parents and carers find difficult is the transition from school to adult services. The safety of school is being left behind and there is an influx of new information, places and faces! This is undoubtedly a time of uncertainty; finding the best placement, ensuring that the young person settles etc., and, in many cases, the need to consider alternative working arrangements to suit the new changes. In this phase it is very normal for parents to be struggling with their child ‘growing up’ and making decisions for themselves. It is without doubt that a teenage child with a learning disability creates another layer of vulnerability and it is understandable that parents would feel the need to protect and keep their family member safe. It is beneficial to discuss these fears and explore feelings of anxiety about these inevitable changes.
Moving into residential/supported living - In my experience another difficult time for parents is when they are ageing themselves and have concerns about what will become of their child if anything should happen to them. This is a very difficult decision for parents to consider and understandably a very challenging conversation to have with their child and other family members. The move from the family home to supported living/residential care can be a tough time for all involved. Parents/carers may have conflicting thoughts and feelings about the move. Taking the time to explore these thoughts and feelings may help parent/carer gain more confidence in their reasoning for the decision, which will therefore help them to be more accepting of the changes ahead.