Individuals with learning difficulties, their families, and professionals in health and education report that children and young people are often not given the support they need. This can mean that people may not reach their full potential in life, to the detriment of themselves, their family members and society.
There are many unanswered questions about learning difficulties and what they mean for children and young people and their families. It is widely agreed that more needs to be done to reduce the barriers that can be caused by learning difficulties. However, it was less certain what should be done first in order to make the most difference, and what areas mattered most to those personally and professionally affected.
We addressed this issue by identifying unanswered questions about learning difficulties from children and young people and from their families. Questions were also collected from healthcare, education, social work and third sector professionals who work with children, young people and their families.
The project systematically prioritised the questions that this group of stakeholders agreed to be the most important. The result is a list of the top 10 research priorities for learning difficulties.
For this project we worked alongside the James Lind Alliance, as experts in priority setting partnerships and alongside our partners the Salvesen Mindroom Centre. A steering group of professionals and families of children with learning difficulties was also helped lead and direct the project.
Top 10 priorities for learning difficulties research
- What knowledge, skills and training do educational professionals need to identify the early signs of learning difficulties and provide optimal support for children and young people affected to help them achieve the best possible outcomes?
- What is the best educational and community environment for children and young people with learning difficulties?
- How can multiple types of professionals work together with parents and carers to improve identification, diagnosis, interventions and treatments and achieve the best outcomes for children and young people with learning difficulties?
- Which early interventions are effective for children and young people with learning difficulties, at what ages and stages are they best introduced and what are the long-term outcomes?
- What knowledge, skills and training do health, social work and "third sector" (e.g. charities and support services) professionals need to understand the best support to give children and young people with learning difficulties and their families/carers?
- How can parents, carers, brothers and sisters and extended families of children and young people with learning difficulties, be best supported to achieve their best quality of life before, during and after the diagnosis or identification in home, school and community contexts?
- How can we best identify early features, symptoms and signs of learning difficulties amongst children, young people and their families/carers?
- What is the best way to assess learning difficulties in children and young people?
- Which strategies are effective in preventing stigma and bullying towards children and young people with learning difficulties?
- Which strategies are effective in helping children and young people with learning difficulties live independent lives, including during times of transitions?
James Lind Alliance website - for further details and project documentation
Salvesen Mindroom Centre