Richard and Esther have been in a relationship for 8 years. See what think about subjects from everyday life (and what they think of each other's opinions!)
Being in a relationship
Richard: We’re a couple, we understand each other. We talk about things. If something bothers us we agree to talk to each other about it.
Esther: If there is ever a problem we will always try to come to an understanding, an agreement. We will try to work it out by listening to each other and listening to each other’s points of views. We’ve always got time for each other, we’ve got the same interests.
R: I can be stubborn sometimes. That’s part of being a couple.
E: And sometimes I’m not that easy to live with ‘cos sometimes I have my faults as well.
R: We don’t live together, but mostly Esther stays over my house. I get on with her Mum, but her sister, no comment. Esther is outgoing, if I feel down she will bring me up again, she is a rock to me, if I get a bit moody she’ll put me to one side and tell me to calm down and relax. She’s there for me, she means the world to me.
E: I believe I can push Richard forward. He’s an outgoing person; he can achieve things, he can go all the way in life. He’s so talented, he’s so clever, he’s always got time for people with learning disabilities and he pushes people forward. He helps me achieve my goals, without him in my life I don’t know where I would be.
R: We’ve been together for 8 years. We knew each other at school, but we didn’t talk to each other at school, i was a bit of a rebel. We got to know each other at the day centre.
Everyday life and interests
R: On Mondays we go to the West End, sometimes we go to HMV. Well, Esther puts up with me going to HMV! We go shopping, see friends, we like the same programmes; Neighbours, Coronation Street, Eastenders. We don’t like Emmerdale - Emmerdale is boring! I like football but Esther doesn’t. Poor Esther has to put up with me when Man United lose.
E: One programme that gives me inspiration and pushes me forward is Crimewatch. I really like Crimewatch. The stories that get to me and make me cry are about hate crime. I think to myself, how would you like it if you were bullied?
R: On the weekends we go to the cinema, we like comic book movies. I work every Friday. I’m a Project Support Assistant at Mencap. I work in the Programmes Team and my job is to help manage projects like the Gateway Award, and to help get messages out to schools so people with a learning disability can push forward.
E: I like going to history events and history clubs. One thing that really touches me is hearing other people’s views and what they think about changes. We go to a social club on a Friday night called Open House. We play games and we mix with other people. Paul and Carol organise it and they are so supportive, they’ve got time for everybody’s needs. They always make you feel welcome, they always listen to you
R: We have friends that go with us, we have a laugh, a joke, a bit of banter. Especially Uno, I must admit I’m a bit competitive when it comes to Uno. Esther always says "It’s not about winning Richard, it’s about having fun!" and I say "No, I can’t lose!"
E: A learning disability is a gift, it's something you are born with and you should be proud of. You can achieve things in life. You’ve got a mind to do things. You’re just a normal person like everybody else!
R: I tell myself, you know what, I have a learning disability and I’m happy with who I am. At the end of the day, if someone doesn’t like me, tough because I am who I am. It’s not a curse, it’s a blessing.
E: One thing I would say to someone who has a learning disability; be proud of who you are, don’t be ashamed to have a learning disability. You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. If you’ve got a disability, don’t hold yourself back, put yourself out there. There are always people who can support you, there is better training and better support.
R: There needs to be more education more understanding around learning disability. Get more people with a learning disability in jobs. Get more people with a learning disability in the media and in the soaps. I know Down’s syndrome is a disability, I know that, but they shouldn’t always use people with a visible disability like Down’s syndrome. People assume that having a learning disability means that you have Down’s syndrome.
E: People with a learning disability can do just a good a job as anyone else can so just give them a chance, don’t judge them.
Looking to the future...
E: My hope is to make sure that people with a learning disability don’t suffer in silence. They’ve got a voice so let’s push learning disability forwards in life and build their confidence up.
R: I hope we get our own house - as long as you don’t drive me up the wall Esther! Only joking! I want to continue working for Mencap. Mencap have done a good job with me, 8 years I’ve worked for Mencap and I’m happy.
E: I hope people with a learning disability have a better education, better jobs and one day even become Prime Minister or something! I think that’s the best achievement someone could have.
Photo credit: Rankin
Got questions about learning disability? Who better to ask than someone who has a learning disability!
We got Aeren to answer some questions. Take a look at the chat to hear her thoughts and experience of having a learning disability...