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Why People With Learning DisAbilities Shouldn’t Have Children

November 24, 2009

A sister explains her views… comments very welcome below, as always. Part of the debate on DisAbility and Parenting.

When my little sister was a child in the 1960s, we never said to her that she was mentally handicapped; no one in our family would ever have considered doing so. One day, though, when she was about 10, she received a visit from a social worker, as she did occasionally, perhaps because my mother was receiving money from the council, and this person left my sister in tears. “She says I’m mentally handicapped,” said my sister, sobbing.

“What does that mean?” I asked, hoping the social worker had not said anything even more upsetting. “She says it means I can never get married and have children.”

My sister is now, like me, a woman of a certain age although, unlike me, she has never married. We are very close, although we live two hours apart. We speak on the phone at least once a day and recently she has begun to email me as well, with help from care workers. She is usually on my mind and never more so than last Thursday, when BBC2 transmitted a documentary called Emma and Ben, about a young couple with Down’s syndrome who are deciding whether or not to get married.

In the end, despite their obvious love and tenderness for each other, they decide against marriage, but they go through a lot of anguish along the way. One of Emma’s concerns is that she would not be able to cope with babies, although a care worker points out that getting married need not mean having children.

Even sadder than the fading of the couple’s dreams was, to me, Emma’s constant reflection on her predicament as someone with Down’s and on the limitations that she feels, which we, the viewers, come to understand a little. Anyone who has ever been close to such a situation, or to anyone like Emma or Ben, will be moved to tears by this film.

Its transmission coincides with a recent news story in Scotland about another young woman with a learning disability (LD) who very much wants to get married. Kerry Robertson, a pregnant girl of 17, fled with her fiancé from her home in Dunfermline to escape the powers of Fife social services. Local social workers made them cancel their church wedding in September, and all their plans for the flowers and the reception, on the grounds that Kerry lacks capacity, in the legal phrase, to understand the implications of getting married. They have also told Kerry they may take her baby away after birth because of her learning disability, in the baby’s interests.

All these things are unspeakably difficult. You don’t need much imagination to have some idea of the shock and misery of Kerry and her fiancé, or of Emma’s anguish or of my sister’s heartbreak. I myself have had so much experience of the frustrations and hardships — as well as the happiness and achievements — of people with learning disabilities that I can never think or write on this subject without intense feeling for those concerned. So it is with a heavy heart that I say I believe that, in most cases, it is probably a mistake for people with learning disabilities to marry and have children.

Every case and every person is different, of course, and in an ideal world everyone with LDs would have enough good and wise care workers to help them through all their choices in life. But this is not an ideal world, and in our real world, with its looming spending cuts, there are two glaring problems. One is the cost of care workers and another is the question of what happens to children born to a parent or parents who are intellectually impaired.

It is a point of principle in the disability lobby that all people with LDs have every right to have and to keep their children, and it is indeed a universal human right. I entirely sympathise with the underlying feeling, but I believe it is all too often wrong. A senior social work manager boasted to me once that his proudest professional achievement, in line with this rights-led and inclusive philosophy, was to facilitate the marriage of two people with LDs, one of them blind, who then had two babies.

When I asked what support they received, he said they needed 24-hour care, which involved three full-time trained workers on eight-hour shifts, with agency workers on top if anyone was sick. I hesitate even to try to put a cost on this.

Yet in the same organisation other people with LDs were having their modest care packages cut by hard-pressed councils, while countless others were getting no care at all, desperately though they needed it.

We live in a world of rationing and, with Britain’s frightening levels of debt, this is going to become ever harsher. Last week, for instance, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence announced that liver cancer patients could not have a drug that might extend their lives, because it was too expensive; there are terrible choices to be made about the use of public money.

Even if money were no object, there is still the problem, with parents with LDs, of their children’s development. There is a growing body of evidence (across the entire population) that children whose homes are talk-poor, whose parents can’t or don’t communicate with them well and who can’t make careful plans and boundaries for them or help them with schoolwork, are children brought up to serious distress and exclusion.

It is hard enough to be an adequate parent with supposedly normal intelligence. For someone of very low intelligence it is even harder. That is presumably why so many — 50%-60% — of babies born to parents with LDs are taken away by social workers, a horrifying thing but arguably, in many cases, the least worst thing to do.

People with LDs who want children are said by their advocates in pressure groups to have “learning disabilities, not loving disabilities”. I think that avoids the issue. Love is not enough, although of course love is essential. Besides, a learning disability may in some cases involve emotional problems as well, including autism and challenging behaviour, which will make loving and consistent parenthood extremely difficult.

I hate to be someone who thinks social workers may be right, sometimes, in removing a child from parents with learning disabilities. I hate to be someone who thinks it is unwise and unfair to encourage people with LDs to have babies and I certainly wouldn’t attempt to stop anyone. But wishful thinking is sometimes at odds with a sense of responsibility, as I think Emma and Ben came to feel. There are some things in life that all the love you have cannot change and cannot make better.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 7:18 pm

    Excuse me…I think you have the term learning disability confused with metal retardation. People with LD have average or above average intelligence. Albert Einstein had a learning disability! I have a learning disability and I have a Masters in Education with a 4.0GPA!

    • Doug Chapman permalink
      November 5, 2011 4:33 pm

      I have known people with learning disabilities who got married and had children and they turned out fine.

  2. samedifference1 permalink*
    April 20, 2010 8:10 pm

    Just to clarify something for you jt. I did not write this article. It was written by the older sister of someone who has what the article writer describes as a learning disability. That’s her description, not mine.

    Unfortunately I have had to edit your comment quite heavily. If you read the Same Difference comments policy, you will see that I do not allow swearwords or personal insults against anyone in comments on this site.

  3. Sophie permalink
    May 19, 2010 2:43 pm

    Id like to note that this is a particularly sensitive topic, but it captures a real account of the current difficulties to enable people with learning difficulties to lead fulfilling lives. Particularly with the care cuts due to the depth of recession. Thank you for publishing.

  4. Stu permalink
    June 2, 2010 3:54 pm

    Hi,

    As a proffessional currently working on a project to ensure that parents with a learning disability recieve equal treatment, oppotunities and the support they need to be good parents I found this quite disheartening to read.

    I can however appreciate the sentiment – a learning disabled parent may well be heading for heartache if the proper support is not provided from pregnancy onwards.

    What is clear is that people will form relationships and have sex when the opporunity arises – creating a taboo or applying a total lack of aspiration in this area merely serves to leave people ill prepared to keep themselves safe sexually.
    In my experience, some people are able to be good parents – they should be supported to be exactly that. The needs of the child should always be paramount but it seems to me that the assumption is that parents with learning disabilities cannot be good parents rather than that they can, which I belive should be the case.

    To remove a child on the basis that it “May” be detrimental in the long term seems self defeating – almost all studies show that removing a child “Definately” causes trauma for both parties.

    Would a parent with learning disabilites feel any differently from me if my child was removed?

    Re the first comment: The term learning disability covers quite a range of intellectual impairments and has a range of diifering definitions depending on where you look. The most accurate statement is that it is a label which can be applied to people to make it easier to plan services. The people it is applied to usually have developmental intelectual and cognitive impairment which will last their lifetime.

    Aspergers and Autism are not learning disabilities – they are conditions or disorders – possibly better though of as learining differences.

    ASC (Autistic Spectrum Conditions) may or may not be present in people who have “Learning Disabilities” but one is not an indicator of the other. Without having met Albert Einstien, I wouldn’t like to say which label we could apply to him.

    • December 27, 2012 4:48 am

      hey stu I would like to talk more to you and what your doing to help parents with learning disablities I have a daughter who is learning disabled otherwise a developmental intelectual and congnitive impairment she had a baby who the state removed the baby is in kinship care and now they want to put the baby in orphans court the fatheer has aspergers and both of the parents are seperated my daughter wants her baby back both of the parents have complied with a family case plan and completed all requirements successfully still I believe the court is predjudice we dont have alot of money actually we don’t have any but we need help please get back to me by email so we can talk futher.

  5. February 1, 2012 6:34 am

    It is no wonder there is such heartache and trauma for disabled parents when attitudes such as the one in the article are expressed so freely and so commonly. One might as well say that racist parents should be sterilised because it would be ‘better for all concerned’. In which case…my own sister who complained at her 12 week scan that, ‘All the other women there were pak*s’ might be considered unfit to have a child, though I do not say that she will do that bad a job. However, I certainly think that of the two of us, the sister with the Masters degree in Disability Studies, who babysat for local children as a teenager, did Child Development Studies at GCSE and gained numerous A* grades when these were still uncommon, and even a D pass at the subject she has a ‘learning disability’ in, might possibly do better than someone who would have to rely wholly on the skills of teachers with one degree and a years teacher training, because she herself did a degree that ranged far less widely.

    Maybe a woman whose husband is also a professional trained to Masters level who went to one of the country’s top public schools and who is literate, articulate, financially , socially and emotionally responsible might be better fitted as a husband and father even to a wife with ‘learning disabilities’ who has supportive friends and contacts in every profession it is possible to get a higher degree in than an over confident, charming yet sexually irresponsible young man whose reaction to a minor difficulty like a wife working long hours is to cast about for solace elsewhere. Yes, I am somewhat emotionally damaged by a lifetime’s verbal abuse for perceived and actual differences, yes, holding down a full time job outside the home as well as managing motherhood, a brain tumour and cerebral palsy freelance journalism jobs and disability activism work might be a challenge, yes perhaps I would not be a ‘perfect’ mother or teach my child Mathematics to the same extent that I could teach him or her French, Latin, Disability Studies, Shakespeare, or history. I could however give any child a moral grounding that avoids bigotry, teach basic cooking and housekeeping skills, make them aware of cultural developments that are wider than those found on the evening news. I could ensure that my child learns early by example the evils of prejudice, the beauties of the English language and the possibilities of faith and Christianity. I would teach him or her that it is not what a person costs the taxpayer that defines their true worth, nor what they do for a living, worthwhile and necessary as employment may be, but the depth of their humanity and their willingness to give everything up , even their life, to protect another human sol.

    I would teach them as I was never taught until it was too late, that every man and woman’s worth and choices if they must be measured by the standards of the culture he or she finds themselves in should at least be measured equally against the choices of all other men and women in that culture. Whatever the apparent costs of ‘people with learning disabilities’ or indeed ANY disabilities we should genuinely ask if we are sure what we are walling out when we deny a person the right to a future. If the right to have children is measured by intelligence then we should closely measure all for ‘intelligence’, not merely set arbitrary markers such as ‘learning disability’ which may be misinterpreted and judged lifelong because it was a useful marker that ensured some extra help with fractions and gained a mother some sympathy for her daughters struggles in areas that she herself did not excell in. Despite the fact that one daughter lacks morals, depth of feeling and knowledge even of basic childcare and may struggle to manage with a boorish, narrow husband who may leave HER costing the state far more in child support, because ‘disability’ is a more emotive subject than simple ignorance,it is the masters student who is discouraged, disbarred, and degraded as unfit to be a mother and the narrow minded racist with a mind no more than common who will be hailed as mother of a new generation. What price support for intelligent ‘learning disabled’ women?

  6. Linda DeGise permalink
    March 6, 2012 2:14 am

    My mom had a learning disability and did a wonderful job raising both me and my sister togeher with my dad. I’m not saying it was always easy. But growing up I knew my mom loved me and so did my sister she always made us for safe and taught us rigth from wrong. She went back to work parttime when my sister was in pk and when I was in hs she worked fulltime again.
    Its funny I am the about a year older then she was when I was born and will never be a mom like she was. I don’t have that motherly instinct in me like my mom had.

  7. Pissed permalink
    September 4, 2012 3:38 am

    People with learning disabilities can have children

  8. sandra permalink
    December 5, 2012 12:44 pm

    Do we then remove children from parents who cant walk, run or sing? #Do we remove children because parents cant afford to take them on holiday? Sounds silly but from your reasons where will it end.

    • April 15, 2013 12:45 am

      Yes, we do! A high proportion of children born to physically disabled people are taken away for JUST those reasons (well, the first two, anyway). I was told by a friend whilst I was pregnant (yes, ME!) that ‘All disabled people should have their children placed on the child protection register’. He has personal experience of the CPR being a medical manager for an NHS trust where he is responsible for making such decisions. Yet he himself is watched by CP because his ex wife’s new husband has an unusually unsavory reputation where children, photographs, sex and moral barriers are concerned. And yet….

  9. January 10, 2013 3:26 pm

    i am sick and tired of people and government judging us as less able or not able to take care of our selves why can;’t you people out there who referr yourself as normal get it ion your thick skulls even we can have future becuase we are your flipping mental patients like you treat us doeas not mean we can;t have children HOW DARE YOU say to us of all people for your information we can and we do just fine compared to the way you discrimating kind do you make us feel like we can;t take care of our selves let alone a child if you ask me you people out there that have that to say should not have your say you of all people make me sick i have disability too i can tell you im very good with children so what gives you the right to say that about us we could turn around say all those people out there are not fit to say that or even be in charge how life is because i tell you everybody has some lengh disabilty would you go tell them oh you got this you can;t have children if i were you i would think about what you say about disabled people i can tell you we are clever and intelligent compared to your retardness of how you think things done

    furious

    Era

  10. Beth Good permalink
    January 31, 2013 1:56 am

    I am a PhD student and I have a learning disability this is a ridiculous article. While i do not agree with making broad generalizations and judgements about any group with exceptionalities. it is important to clarify developmental disabilities that are cognitive imparements are not the same thing as learning disabilities. It is this kind of ignorance that stigmatizes people and creates heart ache for those labeled with any kind of disability. Shame.

  11. Mark permalink
    April 4, 2013 5:31 pm

    the author of this article is just another bigot!. This article is essentially attempting to promote Eugenics, and as such should be taken down at once (unless this is a forum for the Council For Racial Purity

    • kimberley permalink
      April 11, 2013 2:25 pm

      There will at some point become too much of a strain on society, as to the cost of keeping and caring for people such as elderly, mental health patients, unemployed and so on and so fourth. Unfortunately as the population grows there will be more people in need of care than there are working people paying taxes. For this I can only see struggle and poverty and a steady decline of care due to costs. For example it cost £3000 to £5000 per week to look after a adult with challenging behaviour, and will be the cost per week until they die of old age. That is between £150000 to £230000 a year !? People in need of cancer drugs up to and over £200000 per year, and elderly between £500 to a £1000 per week. Everyone has a right to life, but at the cost of others? When the money runs out people may chose to terminate such pregnancies unless they can afford to keep them, and care for them in old age, or leave enough money for such care. Hopefully it will never come to this but as the population grows so do costs, costs that are constantly being cut.

      • April 15, 2013 12:50 am

        “Such pregnancies”? Which ones? the ones where people will later grow old and need care, get ill and need care, have cancer and need care? Why not do as China does and limit families to one child rather than specifically discriminating against children with learning disabilities?

        Besides which HOW THE HELL CAN YOU TELL WHETHER A CHILD WILL HAVE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES WHILST IN THE WOMB???? By definition a learning disability is something that it is not possible to quantify until a child begins to learn -i.e. is OUTSIDE the womb.

        Lets cancel babies for all until everyone without a learning disability has bothered to lEARN about disability….

  12. alexisrose permalink
    April 15, 2013 4:28 pm

    As a professional working in the field of learning disabilities, I would simply like to point out the difference between the terms Learning disabilities and Learning difficulties. This is often a stumbling block between services and can cause a lot of miscommunication. The term ‘Learning disabilities’ refers to an individual with an IQ of less than 70 and with significant impairment in at least two areas of development prior to the age of 18. ‘Learning difficulties’ refers to individuals with specific difficulties such as dyslexia but with no significant impairment to development or IQ.

    • November 6, 2013 1:57 am

      My apologies, James. You are quite right to point this out. I didn’t mean to use the terms interchangeably (my own personal experience being as you say, coloured by this confusion, leading to people telling me that I ‘haven’t got a learning difficulty’ because I have two degrees’ or that I haven’t got a learning difficulty, That’s people with Downs Syndrome’.
      I may have been a little rattled by finding comments that sound like erzatz T4 arguments and ones so ill-infoirmed asto believe that we have not YET reached a stage where ‘disabled foetuses’ (cf David Cameron, Hansard) are routinely aborted.
      My main concern here is that the confusion which you refer to often leads social services, GPs to press for the abortion of babies born to people with learning disabilities AND learning difficulties (such as a recent case of a dyspraxic woman whose child was placed in care on these grounds) and or to erroneous conclusions about capabilities -such as when a friend of mine was assessed as ‘below average intelligence’ because of speech difficulties and CP. Her own IQ is far higher than mine.
      As you point out it is a matter of numbers -by one measure at least- My dyscalculia, dyspraxia and general spatial brain damage put my measurable IQ at 73 (or was it 70? (I don’t do numbers :-) Which makes me 3 IQ points above learning disabilities. Yet…. my posts I hope, to the more discerning reader are recognisably lucid and appeal for (if they cannot prove) that all are worthy of consideration not abuse.

  13. kim permalink
    April 20, 2013 6:19 pm

    ladycrookback
    I have worked in doctors surgeries and came across people whom have been told their child will be born server disability, and asked how they would cope. the reply I got was (“oh well, its ok, we will get plenty of disability benefits and carers allowance. so I don’t have to work and worry about the bills etc”) MY POINT IS ladycrookbacK IF YOU WANT CHRILDREN YOU SHOULD PAY FOR THEM YOURSELF, GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDE AND GO TO WORK! WEATHER YOUR DISABLED OR NOT, WHY HAVE CHRILDREN IF YOU CAN NOT AFFORD THEM! AND IF YOU CAN “WELL DONE”
    AND LET ME GUESS ladycrookback YOU ARE ALSO ON BENIFITS.
    people should look after their own families and all benefits should be stopped full stop, then you would see what would happen to peoples attitudes!
    your know there will eventually be too many disabled, and we will come to a point when we can no longer afford to keep them or you. but yet many of You complain about immigration, what is the difference between them and YOU! ooh wait they work, pay taxes that pay for YOUR CARE!!!

    • April 20, 2013 11:46 pm

      WOW I have now read it all Kin you have more of a disability then children born with disabilities I have a 20 yr. old daughter who has a learning disability she has been on SSI since she was real young I and her father have worked our whole lives we cant afford much never have we separated and divorced when she was like 2 yrs. old but we have loved her and have taken care of her in spite of her learning disability she is a senior yet in high school and she is in a work experience program she may never be able to hold a full time job but she tries I myself have only needed her help once for like 3 months when I was out of work I lived with her SSI should never be stopped for ant child out there with a disability nor should parents abort a life because the child might be born with a disability we are all the same we grow up we meet someone fall in love and many or us desire to have children we get pregnant and while our unborn is in our wombs we love that we rub our bellies sing and talk to out little one while we are carrying and we long to hold our child when our child is born we naturally love the child regardless. Apparently you have never been around young children who have learning disabilities or you would understand and you’d fall in love with them they are special they are human and each one of tem is just like the rest of us except they will always have child like faith and love and beliefs and there awesome they have heart the love in a way we who don’t have a learning disability could never fathom, They desire to work to do for themselves they are just like us, Kim the only thing they are not is like you prejudice and filled with hate for someone who is different I myself will pray for you Kim that God will show you how to love just as he loves you and your imperfections because bottom line is we are all born to be imperfect just some are more severe and the rest of us believe we are normal. SSI is out there for each and everyone of us some just need it sooner than others I have worked hard all my life and made very little money and now my body pays the price I am unable to hold a job and do the things I used to and I to may be on SSI because I don’t qualify for disability well not that I don’t qualify but they tell me I have a right to choose SSI or disability there is a difference in the monthly amount so question is should my mom have not had me because at 50 yrs. old I have developed a disability and a learning disability along with the physical disability??

      • kim permalink
        July 4, 2013 5:01 pm

        F.A.O Star
        I have family members with serve autism, learning disabilities, my elder sister has a form of MS. she is from a different farther, but neither the less I have had many test as I do not and will not bring a child into the world whom will have a poor quality of life! my sister nearly died and is unable to work, and when in hospital unable to wash an care for herself. If was pregnant and told there was a chance of, I would terminate! I have family members whom are in care homes because family members are no longer able to care for them any longer. I work in care homes and find it cruel that many of them have not seen or heard from their family in over 20yrs. sometimes they are the only child and their parents moved abroad, in an elderly care home or dead. what happens to them “the ones unable to care for themselves” they will inevitably end up there. is not the same as living with your family, when your mother hugs you when your feeling sad, and reassures you. there is no physical contact between service users and carers, only words of assurance. and even then the care staff move on and get new jobs. your future children will be unbalanced unable to have stable relationships, and familiar faces. only if their family are around for the duration of their lives and not just for the first 20 or 30 years. the parents of these children will be long dead an buried while these children now adults are in the care of these homes “business” and they are often left to their own devises and not given the care or attention they need. I try to do everything I can for them at the end of the day but its just not the same as living with your family its more like prison “there word not mine”! and missy I know people whom have adopted children how are gay and done a better job than straight people I know. if you don’t want to be discriminated against don’t discriminate other in return.

        And yes I know many people with learning disabilities, and disabled people whom have jobs and are able to care for themselves, and are very happy. but I know other whom are happy to sit on there bum, whom only have mild disabilities and tell me ooh I carnt be bothered to get a job I get dla so why do I have to go to work. ????

      • November 4, 2013 10:30 pm

        Wonderful response! Star! Love and hugs to you and your daughter! You have a wonderful attitude to life! God Bless you as richly as your faith in him deserves and I hope that ‘Kim’s’ attitude was not too distressing. It is so sad to see people so bitter. Terrible that such people work in care homes (one must hope that isn’t true!)

        Holding down a full time job outside the home as well as managing motherhood, must have been so very hard for you. Well done for giving everything your best and so sorry that it has impacted on your health. As I am sure you believe in miracles I will pray for one for you- sounds like you have had a few already!

        The depth of YOUR humanity and your willingness to give everything up , even your life, to protect another human soul.No greater thing on this earth!

        xxxHUGSxxxx

  14. Missy permalink
    June 13, 2013 9:56 pm

    I agreed with Era.

    I have learning disability. I should get married, have children, if I want. Not have social worker, taking my future children away from me. Why not show us, how to raise kids. I love kids. I would be so upset, with someone took my children away. They are allowing gay marriage, but people with learning disability, can’t get married. This world is mess up.

    Furious

    • kathy thureen permalink
      April 7, 2014 1:33 am

      I think you should go for it

  15. kim permalink
    July 4, 2013 4:54 pm

    F.A.O Star
    I have family members with serve autism, learning disabilities, my elder sister has a form of MS. she is from a different farther, but neither the less I have had many test as I do not and will not bring a child into the world whom will have a poor quality of life! my sister nearly died and is unable to work, and when in hospital unable to wash an care for herself. If was pregnant and told there was a chance of, I would terminate! I have family members whom are in care homes because family members are no longer able to care for them any longer. I work in care homes and find it cruel that many of them have not seen or heard from their family in over 20yrs. sometimes they are the only child and their parents moved abroad, in an elderly care home or dead. what happens to them “the ones unable to care for themselves” they will inevitably end up there. is not the same as living with your family, when your mother hugs you when your feeling sad, and reassures you. there is no physical contact between service users and carers, only words of assurance. and even then the care staff move on and get new jobs. your future children will be unbalanced unable to have stable relationships, and familiar faces. only if their family are around for the duration of their lives and not just for the first 20 or 30 years. the parents of these children will be long dead an buried while these children now adults are in the care of these homes “business” and they are often left to their own devises and not given the care or attention they need. I try to do everything I can for them at the end of the day but its just not the same as living with your family its more like prison “there word not mine”! and missy I know people whom have adopted children how are gay and done a better job than straight people I know. if you don’t want to be discriminated against don’t discriminate other in return.

    • November 4, 2013 10:59 pm

      As D.L.A. is an in-work benefit, I do not see its relevance to the current discussion. Nor do I think you have any right to assume that I defend disabled parenting on the grounds of receiving benefit. It does not follow that anyone who defends the rights of disabled parents is disabled or in receipt of benefits. As I said before I have freelance journalism jobs and disability activism work -plenty of work, thank you. Would you _expect someone with a Masters degree and two Firsts to be idle? However, I deplore and will always strive against injustice, whether it be racism, ageism, sexism or poverty created by those with plenty.

      Yes, it IS ‘O.K’ for people to have disability benefits to which they are entitled, though in fact I know of many parents who like Star, brought up their children without the support of DLA or any other benefit. I am sorry that your experience of others has been so narrow. What on earth gives you the right, however to even ask people with children with disabilities how they will cope? They are entitled to give any answer they choose and I suspect that not a few were being ironic at the expense of a person who had no business to ask.

      You say you think all benefits should be scrapped and that families should do all the caring, yet you exhibit no sign of care, compassion or respect for those family members or care home residents you speak of. If care homes are hell, perhaps it is due to the standard of care and as you say, the lack of compassion (and intelligence) of the average care worker.

      NOTHING gives others the right to determine such decisions in the lives of disabled people. I repeat: it is not what a person costs the taxpayer that defines their true worth, nor what they do for a living, worthwhile and necessary as employment may be, but the depth of their humanity and their willingness to give everything , even their life, to protect another human soul.

  16. November 6, 2013 6:33 pm

    Sorry for coming in this late, but the comparison of Kerry Robertson (now McDougall) with the author’s sister is entirely inappropriate, even if her case had been in the news when she wrote this. Kerry’s problem was that the social workers were prejudiced against her because of her problematic family background as well as what they saw as her low intelligence; they also may have been suspicious of her relationship with a man in his mid-20s at age 17. I believe their grounds of “the child’s best interest” was an excuse. She was not severely intellectually disabled. In the event, she and her partner (now husband) fled to Ireland, where the baby was taken into care but returned after about six months. She now has a second son. There have been no further problems, to my knowledge.

  17. November 6, 2013 6:35 pm

    The author (Minette Marrin) shouldn’t be described as just “a sister”. She is a columnist with a right-wing newspaper. That her perspective should be much the same as Rosa Monckton’s (i.e. taking a dim view of intellectually disabled people’s abilities and emphasising “care” over independence) stands to reason.

  18. December 16, 2013 9:17 am

    This is absolute bull shit I have a learning disability and people don’t get away from calling me shit like i’m mental disabled which i’m not i’m just a slow learner that uses my brain differently. I have the rights to have children and get married and also have a boy friend people like the government cannot take that away from us we should be able to enjoy life like normal people can but we can’t? how bull shit. We should be able to do what we please we all are human beings treat us with respect you hoes. We are not perfect so what so aren’t you’s. We are different so what? so are you what’s the difference? I don’t see one at all.

  19. James permalink
    July 8, 2014 8:39 pm

    Did nobody tell the couple with Down Syndrome that there was virtually zero chance of them having childrenno matter how much unprotected sex they? Most males are totally infertile & females have greatly reduced fertility. This should not have been a worry for them. What idiots were advising them?

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