Parents ‘Worry about Attitudes to Learning Disability Children on Holiday’

Parents of children with learning disabilities say they worry about the attitudes of members of the public when take their child on holiday.

Parents 'worry about attitudes to learning disability children on holiday'Parents of children with learning disabilities say they worry about the attitudes of members of the public when take their child on holiday.

This was a fear for 58% of parents who were questioned by the learning disability charity Mencap.

It was not just public perceptions which could hamper hopes of a happy holiday, as 42% of the 400 parents of children with a learning disability who were questioned said they had concerns about the attitudes of staff who would be dealing with them.

Levels of staff skills were a concern for 30% of parents while 39% named a lack of appropriate childcare as another potential problem.

Jenny Buchan, whose 11-year-old son Max has Down’s Syndrome, told researchers that “staff attitudes can really make or break a holiday”.

Her varying experience has included finding Max on his own by the pool after she left him at a kids club. Staff had said his sister had come to pick him up, even though he does not have a sister.

Yet just days later Max, who can feel slow and confused in some situations, was made to feel like a star in a game of musical chairs.

Ms Buchan said: “Max never wins this game because he’s slow, but the staff kept stopping the music when he was by a chair, so he ended up winning.

“The manager of the kids club put him on his shoulders and paraded him around on his shoulders to We Are The Champions. Max was so thrilled. It just goes to show how staff attitudes can really impact your experience.”

Having a holiday with their child would raise problems in trying to get the right support or care while they were away, according to 62% of parents, while 86% felt these barriers could be “significant or very significant”.

Rossanna Trudgian, of Mencap, said: “Support such as childcare and kids clubs is crucial while on holiday in order to give parents a chance to relax and for their child to access activities.

“Positive public and staff attitudes can make a great deal of difference to people’s experiences of going away. Encouraging the public to see the person, not the disability, will bring about more opportunities for people to live their lives as equal citizens, an issue that needs addressing locally as well as nationally.

‘It is incredibly important that we challenge discriminatory attitudes towards people with a learning disability.”

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