Back in 2015, Mind the Gap’s Resident Director, Joyce Nga Yu Lee heard a story from the sister of one of Mind the Gap’s Artists – Pippa, who has Autism. Pippa was pregnant and was going through a whole series of tests and examinations to see if she was able to keep her child.
This seemingly small discovery of one woman’s experience launched Mind the Gap into a while new territory and an ever growing project that explored challenges and experiences of learning disabled parents.
In 2017, Joyce became a mother. If she had a learning disability, she would have likely gone through a parenting assessment to prove 365 ways in which she is capable of being a parent. She might have had her child removed from her at birth until she can prove her ability. She might never get to see her child again.
- The number of learning disabled people becoming parents is increasing
- There might be 70,000 parents with learning disabilities in the UK, possibly two children in each of our schools
- Seven of the eight parents we interviewed in 2016 had undergone some sort of parenting assessment
- In almost all cases, parents experiences are negative and traumatic, including abusive relationships and poor support from professionals
- Advocacy groups tell us that up to 90% of parents with learning disabilities have their children removed
To hear their stories, visit Paige…
Wellcome Trust Engaging Science funding enabled Mind the Gap, in collaboration with Royal Holloway University of London to conduct a small-scale research programme that backed up the limited body of literature in this field.
Dr Kate Theodore’s research showed that people with learning disabilities are increasingly becoming parents, but face multiple disadvantages, including social disadvantage and inappropriate assessments. Barriers include a negative cycle whereby parents with learning disabilities recognise the need for support, but don’t receive right type, or are reluctant to ask for fear of being perceived as “incompetent” or “not good enough”. Download the Research Report below.
Daughters of Fortune: Stories of Parents with Learning Disabilities by Dr Kate Theodore, Lecturer – Royal Holloway University of London