We're celebrating Learning Disability Week here at Aspens, where we provide high quality support to people on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities, and their families, across the South-East. 

This year, the theme is all about busting the myths about living life with a learning disability. The week, organised by Mencap, is celebrating the incredible things that people with a learning disability achieve, "smashing misconceptions and shining a light on the stigma many still face every day". 

We'll be sharing stories from the people we support, their families and our team throughout the week, hearing about their achievements, passions and what life is like from their perspective.

We start today with an account from Becky, parent of Sam who attends Aspens' day opportunities in Kent, of Sam's life with a learning disability and autism. Becky (also a Retail and Hospitality Manager at Aspens) has written this from Sam's perspective: 

“The outside world think they know everything associated with autism and learning disabilities and they assume that I do not understand them and their requests but let me share with you how it really is.

I completely understand everything that is going on around me and the requests and demands that are placed on me, but I respond in a very different way depending on how people see and treat me.

I communicate mostly with my behaviour and language, which can either be a positive display of both which means I can be:

Funny, witty, loving, chatty and responsive when I feel that I am understood and valued by those who support me.


I can be very negative, disruptive and display challenging behaviour or behaviours of concern.

My parents say I have two names, there is:

Sam for the understood and valued and responsive person.

Bob is for the person who feels undervalued, misunderstood and miscommunicated with.

I have always wanted to change to fit into society but my learning disability and autism sadly don’t allow me to do this BUT…..

With the right support, including positive behaviour support, and understanding I have managed to transition from an education environment, which I grew to love as I felt understood, valued and included into an adult day opportunity service at Aspens, where I tested the boundaries to make sure they were robust enough to keep me safe and valued at all times.

I am happy to say that I have only ever received the highest level of support from those involved in my everyday support and development, which has meant I now feel accepted into an environment that has made me know that I am part of a wonderful community where I have learnt to trust people and grow as an individual, in turn giving my parents some peace of mind for the future when they will no longer be here to care for me.

Thank you Aspens you are unique and wonderful.”

Sam and his parents, Becky and Luis.