Understanding Disability

At Supportability, we offer support to children, young people and adults with a wide range of disabilities. The skills and knowledge that we have developed over the lifetime of the organisation enables us especially to provide support for those with ‘complex’ disabilities that include a combination of learning and or physical disabilities or a combination of both.

Our support plans are created to respond to the individual needs of each of our service-users and recognises the fact that the support that we provide will vary depending on the needs of the individual.

Supportability began as a charity that focused just on Cerebral Palsy but we are now much more.

Whilst we started as an organisation that provided support specifically to people with Cerebral Palsy, over the years this has changed as we widened our remit to supporting those people with complex Physical and or Learning disabilities.

A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just during a person’s time at school.

A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. Around 1.5m people in the UK have a learning disability, which means that they can have difficulty:

  • understanding new or complex information;
  • learning new skills;
  • in being independent

It is thought that up to 350,000 people have severe learning disabilities. This figure is increasing and is linked to improved medical knowledge and interventions. We are seeing people with much more complex learning and physical disabilities reaching adulthood and as a provider of services we have had to ensure that we have adapted to meet the needs of people with significant levels of need.

A learning disability occurs when the brain is still developing  so before, during or soon after birth. For example before birth;

  • There can be problems with the developing central nervous system in relation to the brain and spinal cord that could lead to a learning disability
  • If Mum is poorly or has an accident whilst she is pregnant, this could cause damage to the developing baby leading to a learning disability
  • The genes that help make up who we are sometimes do not do what they should do when the baby is developing which results in a learning disability such as Downs Syndrome
  • If the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen when they are being born, there is damage to the baby’s head during the birth, or the baby is born too early, this can result in a learning disability.

At any point after birth a learning disability can by caused by things such as childhood illnesses, accidents and seizures.