Learning Disability Week: 20 year old Agnita gains confidence in her communication skills

Published: 20th June 2023

This week (19-25 June), we're are proud to be supporting Learning Disability Week.The annual campaign is about making sure the world hears what life is like if you have a learning disability.

Learning Disability Week is important for so many reasons, it highlights the outstanding work of our dedicated learning disability teams do every day. It also provides the opportunity to raise awareness about the stigma, prejudgment, and discrimination that people with learning disabilities face and how we can challenge it.

Speech and Language Therapist Naomi Fleischer talks us through how the service supports one of our patients with a learning disability in Barnet.

Agnita is 20 years old and has a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome and a learning disability. She was referred to the Speech and Language Therapy team within the Barnet Learning Disabilities Services for support around her communication as she had limited speech and unfamiliar people found her speech difficult to understand.

Following the assessment, Agnita presented with some difficulties understanding what other people say. However, she naturally used gestures very well and showed an ability to learn and remember new skills. Makaton training was recommended to support her understanding in conversations, increase the variety of topics she can communicate about and to help create positive social experiences. Naomi Lyne, a speech and language therapist, and I, along with one of our student’s alternately provided weekly Makaton training sessions to Agnita covering 50 different signs to learn about the importance of communication. 

Fortunately, Agnita and her family responded extremely well to telehealth – a digital information and communication technology to access health care services remotely and manage patient health care. Agnita found this training very beneficial, as it provided her with the tools to support her difficulties with speech. Her family were incredibly supportive and practised intensively with her. Agnita's therapy results included increased confidence during social interactions covering a diverse range of conversation topics, a willingness to resolve communication breakdowns when they occurred, and use of Makaton in her day-to-day life.

For individuals with a learning disability, the need for effective communication holds even greater significance. Learning disabilities encompass a range of conditions that affect an individual’s ability to acquire, process and retain information.

If you would like any more information on Learning Disability Week, visit the Mencap website.

Don’t miss out: My Health Matters Day event

On Wednesday 21 June, our Barnet learning disability team is hosting a special in-person event in collaboration with Healthwatch, Barnet Council and Barnet Mencap to support people with learning disabilities. The team is hosting a stall to share all the ways people with learning disabilities can get involved and work with the service. If you are in the area, drop by between 11am to 4pm and meet the team. Download the flyer for details from this page. 

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