Planning ahead, and making sure you have the right support, can help to make the future feel less daunting.
Take one day at a time
Although it is important to plan ahead, you may also need to face new challenges as they arise, and deal with each new day as it comes.
Talk to your child about their learning disability
As your child gets older, you will want to explain their condition to them. Remind them of their strengths and build their self-esteem, and let them know that they are just as good as anyone else – they just have a different way of learning.
Share your experiences with other parents
Contact local support groups to share your experiences with other parents, and to keep up to date with what's happening locally.
Get involved with your child's education
Contact your local education authority (LEA) to ask about part-time pre-school placements for children aged 3-5 years.
It is also a good idea to keep good communication links with your child's school. By taking an active interest you can support your child with what they have been learning in class, and you can help to monitor their progress.
Find out what support you are entitled to
As a parent, it is a good idea to find out exactly which benefits and assessments you are entitled to. On average it costs more to bring up a child with a disability, due to additional costs of things such as clothing, heating and equipment. As a result, other family members can end up missing out. Single parent families and black and minority ethnic families are more likely to be subject to poverty, often because they lack information and support when claiming benefits and tax credits.
Under the Employment Act 2003 the parents of young and disabled children have the right to apply for flexible working, and since April 2007 this right has been extended to the carers of adults. Flexibility in the workplace can mean part-time, flexi-time, job-sharing, staggered hours or term-time working, to name but a few. However, you must make sure that you have a contract of employment flexibility that can cover hours, times and places of work.
- Find out more about community care assessments
- Find out more about carer's assessments
- Read ‘The right to apply for Flexible working; A short guide for employers, working parents and carers' on the Acas website
Be prepared for transition
Transition into adult life can be a difficult process for both parents and children. Parents have told Mencap that services are no longer so readily available for adults, and at this stage it can feel like your choices have become much more limited.
Make sure you are prepared for transition by keeping a close eye on your child's transition plan, which should be drawn up when they are 14 years-old. At the same time a person-centred plan (PCP) should also be put in place, and your child should work with everyone who supports them to create their plan for the future.
Think about employment
There are now many more opportunities for people with a learning disability to find work. Supported employment offers employment and training, while Jobcentre Plus has a co-ordinated disability employment advisor to provide support.
- Find out about Mencap's jobs and training opportunities
Think about wills and trusts
We know it can be difficult to plan for the future. Mencap can help make things easier by offering advice and suggestions about making a will, so you can be sure your loved one with a learning disability will get the financial support they need when you are no longer around.