A series of books on learning disabilities

Government launches learning disability and autism training consultation

The Government has launched a consultation on mandatory learning disability and autism training for all health and social care staff.

The project is named after Oliver McGowan, an autistic teenager with a mild learning disability, who died in 2016 after reacting to medication given to him by health care professionals – medication which both he and his family contested the use of. 

Mandatory training was included in the Health and Care Act 2022 but, according to Learning Disabilities Mortality Review data, those with a learning disability and autism still have poorer health outcomes than the general population, highlighting the need for a reform of the code. 

Rose Black, a specialist speech and language therapist from Essex, said: “We are starting to see change happening, but we have got a long way to go.

“We’re still talking about awareness, but for me awareness isn’t good enough. We need to see acceptance and adaptation, to ensure our clients, our children have a voice. We’ve got a duty.”

The Government says it is aiming to improve standards for health and care staff, through providing high-quality, personalised care.

Abby Gregory, a primary school teacher from Hounslow, said: “There are many resources out there but being able to access them is a struggle. It’s heartbreaking to see our children being failed.

“The government needs to think about provisions for the children lost in the system.”

The code sets out the new legislative requirements, which ensures all staff receive training appropriate to their role.

EYE CAN WRITE: Campaigner Jonathan Bryan

This improved level of training and awareness is what Jonthan Bryan and his mother, Chantal Bryan from Wiltshire, have been campaigning for since starting their Teach Us Too campaign in 2016, followed by the founding of the charity in 2018, which offers essential training and support workshops.

Jonathan was born with cerebral palsy, brain damage and failing kidneys, following a car accident while Chantal was 36 weeks pregnant. 

He was uncommunicative, until his mother took his education into her own hands at age seven.

Jonathan, Founder of Teach Us Too, said: “We need to stop seeing disabled people as something to accommodate, but rather as people with a lot to offer society.”

The Government is inviting responses to its consultation and says any sent before 19 September will be considered before laying out the revised code in Parliament. 

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