Welcome to the new Learning Disability Nursing forum

Specialties Disabilities


Specializes in CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele.

Per the request of one of the allnurses.com visitors, we created the Learning Disability forum. Enjoy!

Please feel free to start posting your Learning Disability issues and questions. Thanks


Brian Short


It's how nurses surf the web!

What is learning disability nursing?

Hi night owl

just wanted to respond to your question.

There is probably a difference of opinion between the UK and USA here. As I understand Learning disability nurses do not exist in the USA. In the UK we use this term to refer to people who the USA refer to as mental retardation (if this term is still used)

As a learning disability nurse I'm currently working with offenders who have a learning disability and a mental health problem as well. I guess my speciality would be challenging behaviour in that the behaviour a client displays challenges the staff around them (this usually is along the lines of aggression and violence but can also include verbal abuse; PICA; their offence etc.)

Learning disability is usually diagnosed based on the IQ but also physical and mental development. This also includes lots of syndromes such as downs syndrome; autism asphergers syndrome; cerebral palsy - the list is endless.

Most LD nurses work in community homes enabling the individual to live a 'normal' life. however, others like myself work in specialist environments which are usually based on hospital sites but attempt to get away from institutlisation. Prior to 1990 many still lived in asylums and way back anyone that was 'abnormal' was put away. This also included children born to unmarried mothers or child born with two big toes or only one thumb! The royalty still have siblings being cared for by a hospital in a community setting now but used to be in an asylum (in fact the one where I trained).

I hope this gives you a taster of what we do - also check out www.rnld.co.uk where you'll find lots of examples of our work.


I am a school nurse working with a population of autistic adolescents and adults. My students are 12 to 21 yrs. old and of course mostly male. Many of them have a dual diagnosis of seizure disorders, and most of them are either non-verbal or nearly so. Communication can be pretty challanging, but with time and patience it can be done. There is one insulin dependent diabetic boy. The biggest problem is one of behavior, usually aggression or SIB.

I am a nurse who works with chidren/adolescents/some adults in a office/clinic setting. We evaluate brain systems problems by looking at all areas of the brain. We treat all brain systems problems including attention problems, anxiety & panic, mood dysregulation (depression, mania, hypomania, mood cycling etc.), OCD, motor systems problems, psychosis, learning processing disabilities, social/behavior problems. Our approach is education of the family, assessment of the patient, teaching proper envionment to optimize brain systems problems. WE do 3 generation family histories, neurological exams, phyical exams.. We also offer equine therapy, programs to facilitate all diagnosed problems. WE promote basic brain maintenance. The doctor is certified in psychopharmacology. Do not accept a quick fix! Look for a doc / facility who knows about the brain.

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Wow! Another fine area of nursing...MUCH needed...:kisses to all :nurse:s who are involved in such a unique area of nursing. I believe you all have a real calling if you work in this area as I'm sure it is a tough...however rewarding...area to work in. Great idea, Brian, to allow this as a forum. :)

Thanks for this forum. I am a learning disability nurse working with 30 clients. I am so happy to find this forum to get advice from other nurses in my field. I am an LPN and have only been doing this type of nursing for a few months but I am loving it. It is challenging but very rewarding. Althoug some of our clients can be very difficult they are also very loving individuals. Thanks again for the forum.

Specializes in correctional, psych, ICU, CCU, ER.

So much great stuff. I am an RN with 2 sons who have Aspergers Syndrom. (Yes it is genetic) The oldest is 19 and just received his BS from USC. The younger one is 7 and doing very well in a special school. Neither is in the least bit "mentally retarded" BUT, they have no social skills. no freinds-the oldest didn't understand that the fun of college is in the journey. These are your computer geeks, who do not crowd the water cooler and gossip, nor go to lunch with everyone. They don't care, they are like computers. very black and white, no grey, it either is or it isn't, no maybes' They don't feel that they miss anything by not having friends (what do I need a friend for-I have a computer?) The nurses who work with them are in the doctors office and the school nurses, most of whom have been more hinderance than help. They don't understand the disability, don't take the time to look it up, then when the little one has a meltdown because someone touched him, (they have sensory deprivation problems) the public school nurse scratches her head and says she doesn't understand. Thank God for special schools. Without them, I'D be in jail.

I am a Certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse, RN, looking for CEU's in Devleopmental Disabilities topics. Anyone have any resources?

OMG, what a great forum........

Working with people with varying forms of mental retardation was my first vocation that became an avocation........

I miss it some days.....and value being able to give that "extra" when such a patient finds their way to be a patient in the hospital.

A much not discussed area. Good move, Brian. And to whoever asked for the addition. Way to go.

Will be back to visit this forum discussion.


Specializes in Peds Critical Care, NICU, Burn.

AWESOME! I will be checking in on this forum frequently!. Several of the patients I see in my current line of work have autism or some form of disability--whew! What a challenge! BIG change from infants on ventilators! I do wonder how much of what we do in the NICU's affects the little ones psyches in the long run; I've had some parents tell me their child's autism is not genetic, or at least didn't test out that way. Anybody know of a resource or research that's been done on this? (It's a tangent I didn't realize I would get into when I took this position.) These kiddos don't metabolize/process meds the same way other kids do and are really difficult to sedate for EEG's and what not. I'm interested in communicating with other RN's/practitioners who have similar experiences.

Thanks for the new forum, Brian!

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Hi. I am so happy to find this topic.

I will be starting a new job in October at a residential facility and day program center in S.E. Pennsylvania. The residents are children and adults who are MRCP or have Down Syndrome.

The only experience in this area that I have is 12yrs of babysitting/caring for a girl with MRCP. She ironically lives at this facility now (for the past 2 yrs). However she will not be one of my patients. I am really looking forward to starting there. If anyone has any experiences or advice to share I would greatly appreciate the input!

:) :)

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