People with a learning disability aged 18 or over have the same legal rights and freedoms as anyone else. Even if they cannot communicate with speech, they may be able to use their behaviour to show what decisions they would like to make. Only people who lack capacity will need to have decisions made for them, and even then they must be made in their best interests.
No-one can legally make decisions for someone with a learning disability who can give consent themselves. Provided they can understand the process, they have the same rights as other people to open a bank account, make a will, take out a mortgage and, with support where necessary, manage their own spending.
Our son has his own council flat, but my wife and I still help him with any tricky decisions, and I have complete control of his finances.
The only time someone else can make a decision for them is if:
- a health professional decides to provide medical treatment to someone with a learning disability who cannot consent, because it is in their best interests
- a responsible adult requests to look after the finances of someone with a learning disability who is unable to do so themselves
In many cases, clear accessible information and the right support is all someone with a learning disability will need to be able to act independently and make their own decisions in life.