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Facts and Figures 

According to Mencap, there are approximately 193,707 children of school age in the UK who have a learning disability. 
Pupils with a learning disability or SEN tend to have fewer friends and participate in fewer social and recreational activities than their peers without a learning disability (Solish et al. 2010). 
Children with special educational needs (SEN) are twice as likely as other children to be bullied regularly (Institute of Education, University of London - Download briefing paper HERE
Children and young people with a disability are more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability (Contact a Family 2012 - Download report HERE
Sullivan and Knutson 2000) researched the records of over 50,000 children in an American city and found that disabled children were 3.4 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children. They were: 
3.8 times more likely to be neglected 
3.8 times more likely to be physically abused 
3.1 times more likely to be sexually abused 
3.9 times more likely to be emotionally abused. 
Overall, 31 per cent of disabled children had been abused compared with 9 per cent of the non-disabled child population. The research also found that disabled children are more likely to be subjected to multiple abuse and to endure multiple episodes of abuse. (Cited by NSPCC 2014) 
Children with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) than other children, facing additional barriers to their protection and to receiving support (Anita Franklin, Phil Raws and Emilie Smeaton 2015 Download Report HERE
7 out of 10 families have reached or come close to ‘breaking point' because of a lack of short break services (Mencap) 

Learning Disability and Developmental Disorders 

The World Health Organisation defines Learning Disability as 
"A state of arrested or incomplete development of mind that includes a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning." 
The Mental Health Act 1983 refers to learning disability as either a mental impairment or a severe mental impairment. A mental impairment means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind (that does not amount to a severe impairment) which includes a significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning. A severe mental impairment means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning. 
"A state of arrested or incomplete development of mind
Appears to include all people with a learning disability as long as it is caused before the mind is completely developed. Therefore this refers any person whose learning disability is a result of genetically caused disabilities, accident, disease or environment before or shortly after birth. It would not refer to someone for instance who has suffered a brain injury during adulthood. 
"Severe impairment of intelligence" 
The measurement of intelligenc is made using the IQ Test, an assessment using a battery of standardized tests to evaluate a person's ability to think and reason. It is not a measure of knowledge. The average IQ in the UK is about 100. 
"Severe impairment of social functioning
Refers to matters such as a person’s ability to manage the activities of daily living and generally look after themselves and cope accross all domains of their lives. It may also involve a consideration of the individual’s ability to relate meaningfully to other people. 
Degrees of Learning Disability 
Diagnosis requires that the assessor does not simply measure the young person's intelligence but takes into account the child's ability to function physically, socially, in activities of daily living and self care such as washing and dressing, as well as academically. 
A commonly accepted measure of intelligence is IQ although there have also been controvesies about its application and validity in different populations. The categories below indicate the degrees of severity of learning disability 
70-80 borderline learning disability 
50 -70 mild learning disability 
35 - 50 moderate learning disability 
20 - 35 severe learning disability 
Below 20 profound learning disability 
But it's not all about IQ and cognition - people develop socially and emotionally with a rich variety of life experiences and relationships. Watch this video from the charity Mencap to hear from people with learning disabilities and their families discuss what a learning disability means to them. 
The presence of autism may begin to become apparent in late toddlerhood/early childhood and is generally quite difficult to diagnose under the age of 5. 
It is typified by the "Triad of Impairments" - deficits that the child experiences in relation to: 
Social Interactions - the child struggles to appreciate socio-emotional cues, has poor use of social signals, lacks socio-emtional reciprocity and lacks an emotional response to others 
Recirpocal Communication - The child lacks usage of language (verbal and non-verbal), has poor felxibility in expression and lacks variation in cadence and gesture. 
Imagination - Insistence on rigidity / routine in daily activities, attachment to unusual objects, has non-fictional rituals and pre-occupations with unusual interests and non-fictional aspects of objects. The child may express resistance to change and diasplay an impairment of imaginative play, lacking creativity and fantasy 
In addition to the core features, young people with autism may also present with associated (i.e. not diagnostic) features, which include fears, phobias, sleeping and eating disturbances, tantrums, aggression, self injury and abnormal sensory response (e.g. intolerance of noise, preoccupation with texture, high sensitivity to taste and smells, and exhibiting behaviours such as spinning, rocking, twiddling, clapping and displaying a high pain threshold). 
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. There are over half a million people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder - that's around 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions. However, the condition appears to be more common in males than females; the reason for this is unknown. 
Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. As in autism in general, people with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are: 
social communication 
social interaction 
social imagination. 
While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy. 
Speech and Language 
This may be in the form of articulation, expression or understanding of speech and language. 
Reading, Writing and Arithemetic 
Difficulties arise in establisihing these as there are many confounding factors such as an understimulating environment. 
Motor Function (Physical Movement) 
Developmental disorders of motor function usually present with clumsiness, and there may be an imapirment of hand-eye co-ordination. 
Any Combination of the Above 
These have an onset in early stages of development, commonly present early and are more common in boys. he specific delay should not be accounted for by a global developmental delay or pervasive developmental disorder and it is important to exclude medical causes such as neurological and hearing abnormalities. 

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