One topic that Generate Voices have been passionate about since it began is healthy relationships in the learning disability community.
We finally had the chance to discuss this at a Generate Voices meeting led by two of our members (one of them who has been in a relationship for a long time!)
The meeting started with members sharing their thoughts on what a healthy relationship is.
First, Terry said “A healthy relationship is based on trust, understanding, communication and spending time together.”
“I’m confident I’ll get into a relationship, but I won’t rush things!”
Rio added “A healthy relationship cannot be achieved if it’s toxic! Getting along and understanding is very important!”
Nic said “I haven’t been in a relationship, but I think that any relationship is built on understanding, reasoning and getting along.”
Luis said, “I’m in a relationship, but I would advise everyone to start slowly as friends until things develop into a relationship, both men and women are shy at times.”
Finally, Michelle said “It’s about support trust and honesty.”
One of the members leading the meeting shared their presentation on healthy relationships.
They spoke about the different types of relationships that a person has in their lives:
The bond you have with your family
They spoke of the difficulties faced by people with learning disabilities when trying to enter relationships, but also spoke of the choices, help and opportunities available.
They also spoke of how important it is to be open about your relationship needs and wants, as well as stressing that the final choice of whether to enter a relationship is theirs and no one can make that decision for them!
They then went through some common myths related to people with learning disabilities and relationships, then presented members with the facts.
They ended their presentation by reminding members that people with learning disabilities have every right to enjoy healthy relationships like everyone else.
Members shared their own experiences of the dating myths that were mentioned in the presentation.
First, Rio said “I thought before puberty that no one would want me, and they may cheat on me!”
Terry said “Sometimes, parents are the biggest barrier as a person with a learning disability may be afraid to tell of their intentions to be in a relationship, in case their parents say no.”
Michelle said, “When I was in a previous relationship, I hid my disability from my partners, but with my current partner, everything is open.”
“None of my previous partners had a disability and the only difference in dating someone nondisabled is communication.”
“The most important thing is knowing and valuing your partners personality.”
Nic said “For a lot of people with learning disabilities, they have a problem getting into relationships as they often don’t know what to say or do. Often, they’re scared of being rejected!”
This is a common issue faced even by people without a learning disability.
Michelle added “Relationships with someone with a disability still have insecurities like any other relationships!”
We then watched a video with Luis sharing his thoughts about relationships.
Luis and his partner Karen are a great example of how people with a learning disability can enjoy long and fruitful relationships.
If you want to find out more about the Generate Voices meetings, please do contact the Generate Voices Coordinators, Chiz and Tony.