New guide to help young people with learning disabilities to manage their feelings better

Foundation for people with learning disabilities logoToday the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities has produced a guide on ways to adapt the internationally recognised and World Health Organisation endorsed FRIENDS for Life programme to help children and young people with learning disabilities to manage their feelings better.

Although children and young people with learning disabilities have higher rates of emotional and behavioural problems than their peers without learning disabilities, research shows they have less access to services and support. The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities worked with Rowena Rossiter, Clinical Psychologist, in collaboration with Hazel Court School and the CAMHS-LD Family Intensive Support Service in Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust on a small development project to enable the FRIENDS for Life programme to be accessible for children and young people with learning disabilities. The adaptations were planned to consist of simplified materials with high visual and low verbal content to make the sessions more meaningful.

Developed in Australia, the FRIENDS and Fun Friends programmes build resilience by helping children and teenagers cope with feelings of fear, worry, and depression by teaching cognitive, behavioural, and emotional skills in a simple, well-structured format. Based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy the programmes enable children and young people to learn about the links between their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Jill Davies, Research Programme Manager at the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, said:

“We know that children and young people with learning disabilities have higher rates of emotional and behavioural problems than their peers without learning disabilities yet research shows they have less access to services and support.

“By adapting the FRIENDS for Life programme we hope that more children and young people with learning disabilities are able to better manage their feelings and achieve a greater sense of wellbeing.”

The guide is based on our experiences of trialling some of the FRIENDS for life activities with a group of young people with learning disabilities. It also includes what we learned so far from the adaptation. It is aimed at all professionals working with children and young people with learning disabilities in:

  • Education (e.g. teachers, learning support assistants, learning mentors, educational psychologists, speech and language therapy assistants)
  • Health (e.g. school nurses, community nurses, clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, communication assistants, mental health practitioners)
  • The voluntary and community sector.

To download the guide please visit: www.learningdisabilities.org.uk

About the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities is the directorate of the Mental Health Foundation dedicated to helping people with learning disabilities live their lives to the full. www.learningdisabilities.org.uk

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