“Can people with a learning disability have sex?” Web tool asks questions public too afraid to ask

Understand Me screen shot

New research shows confusion public has around learning disability. Mencap’s Here I Am campaign launched to challenge this

The public are being given the opportunity to ask some of the taboo questions about learning disability that usually they’d be too afraid to ask through the new online tool, Understand Me, launched as part of learning disability charity Mencap’s new Here I Am campaign.

New research from Ipsos Mori and Mencap released today revealed huge confusion and fear of contact amongst the public around learning disability:

  • 27% of people thought learning disability was a form of mental illness
  • 27% of people thought learning disability does not last your whole life
  • Only 30% of people saying they would feel comfortable sat next to someone with a mild learning disability in the cinema, or during a show or concert.

Mencap hopes the Understand Me tool can break down this confusion and fear. When the public visit the site, they’ll be greeted by Aeren Fitzgerald, a 28-year-old woman who has a learning disability, who is ready and waiting to answer the questions that the public are usually too afraid to ask, such as ‘Can people with a learning disability have sex?’.

Understand Me is part of Mencap’s Here I Am campaign, which is using the media to give the public more contact and understanding of learning disability. By allowing people with a learning disability to be seen and heard across the media and giving the public direct contact with learning disability, the charity is tackling negative attitudes.

The Understand Me tool can be found here: www.mencap.org.uk/understandme

A video to launch the campaign featuring a DJ with Down’s syndrome can be found here.

Aeren Fitzgerald, who fronts the Understand Me tool, said:

“I’m very passionate about learning disability and about trying to make sure that everyone is treated the same, no one is treated differently because of their disability.

“People with a learning disability are just like everyone else and should be treated just like anybody else. They just need more support than others. But, lots of people still don’t realise this and there are always lots of questions that people are too afraid to ask. Things like ‘what is your love life like’ or ‘do we have sex’? Silly questions but one’s people have asked me.

“It’s really important that more people know more about learning disability and I’m pleased that I’m helping more people understand learning disability with the Understand Me site.”

Some of the questions include:

  • Can people with a learning disability have sex?
  • Can people with a learning disability go out on a Friday night?
  • How should I treat someone with a learning disability?
  • Can people with a learning disability have babies?

About Mencap 

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.


For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk

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