In this assignment the writer will discuss the concept of relationships for people with an intellectual disability. Due to a limit in word count the writer will focus mainly on social relationships and friendships for people with an intellectual disability while also discussing the benefits and relevance these friendships and relationships have for an individual. The writer will begin with a brief introduction of how people with an intellectual disability were prevented from developing friendships in the past and how society now perceives people with an intellectual disability developing social relationships and friendships. The writer will also discuss barriers that the individual may face and what support systems care staff can put in place to widen social networks and how to assist the person with an intellectual disability to form and maintain friendships and social relationships.
Gates (2007) states that a good range of relationships are essential to individual well being and one of the key elements to empowerment. Mirfin-Veitch (2003) supports this statement and suggests that the lack of friendships and positive social relationships has been linked to poor mental health and wellbeing for adults with an intellectual disability. Historically, people with an intellectual disability have been denied the opportunity to develop and maintain relationships as segregation and institutionalisation inhibited any type of personal social relationship or friendship. However, with the planned closure of institutions from the late 1960’s onwards and values that stemmed from Wolf Wolfensberger, attitudes towards people with an intellectual disability turned towards inclusion into the community (Gates, 2007). Inclusion can be defined as having positive reciprocal relationships, being involved and included in the community which in turn, enables the person with an intellectual disability enjoy ordinary life (Department of Health, 2001). Another important development to consider when discussing inclusion and the quality of life for people with an intellectual disability is John O Brien’s five service accomplishments; Choice, Competence, Respect, Community Presence and Community Participation (Race, 2002). Although it could be argued that relationships are not mentioned in O Brien’s five service accomplishments, however, research suggests that community participation involves different areas of our lives such as, school, work, leisure, sports and friendships (Brothers of Charity, 2012).
Benefits and Relevance for Relationships and Friendships.
According to Gates and Barr (2009) people with an intellectual disability have the same need for meaningful and respectful relationships as everyone else. A life without meaningful relationships can have a negative effect on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Goward et al (2005) agrees and claims that people with an intellectual disability often experience socially impoverished lives and as a result can have feelings of loneliness and isolation. Bigby et al (2007) concurs with this statement by claiming that wellbeing and mental health may be seriously compromised by the lack of close friendships and positive peer relationships. Lowered feelings of wellbeing can affect the ability to make friends which in turn, reinforces poor self worth and can lead to feelings of depression. In contrast to this, rewards that come from friendships and the company of others includes, laughter, adventure, emotional support, protection and friends whom you can show love and affection and get the same in return (Flynn et al, 2010). Equally, friendships provide company, intimacy, practical help and emotional support. Friendships can also help people value themselves, increase self worth, increase self esteem and help build confidence (Hodge, 2003). Consequently, Bigby et al (2007) suggests that people with intellectual disabilities often have such a strong...