Paige with her support staff

Celebrating Learning Disability Week: Paige's Story

This week marks Learning Disability Week, it's an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and experiences of people with learning disabilities and challenge misconceptions. As part of this celebration, we have spoken to Paige, who shared her personal journey of growth and development over the past few years, demonstrating that people with learning disabilities can change, adapt and overcome challenges just like any of us.

Paige joined Optalis Community Lives after leaving college, around 9 years ago. During her time at college, Paige was supported by two staff members at all times and would spend much of her time away from the other students. When Paige first started with Community Lives she continued to receive one-on-one support and had access to a quieter area when needed. Her key worker, Trish, has been there for her throughout this journey, offering consistent support and guidance.

Reflecting on her early experiences, Paige explains, 

"It was a bit tricky sometimes. Big groups were hard to get used to, and some people were worried to be around me." 

Crowded and unpredictable environments proved to be overwhelming and Paige added that certain topics could be a trigger for her, such as talking about money and Christmas.

Over the years, Paige has formed new friendships within the day service and is settled and comfortable being around other people. As Paige states,

"I have made friends, and I'm used to working with different staff. I get better as the week goes on."

Paige has developed effective strategies to manage her emotions and overwhelming situations. She now recognises when she needs a break and takes time for herself without needing help from staff. Not only is she able to help herself, but Paige has become skilled at recognising when a friend is upset and often helps them to calm down.

With the support of her team, she has explored new experiences that in the past would be quite challenging for Paige to enjoy, including attending lively social events. Paige adds

"I got dressed up for the Summer Ball and then I went to a Christmas party, as well. I like to enjoy myself and have a good time with people. Now when there is too much to take in, I take myself away for a bit, my staff don't have to help me. I feel much better."

She has also already reduced her one-on-one support two days a week, and she aspires to eventually not need any one-to-one support.

Looking ahead, Paige has set goals for herself, including a move to supported living in the future. However, she's planning on taking small steps towards this goal. She has begun to enjoy short breaks away from home, Paige adds "I am going to Butlins with Out and About, for my second holiday away."

Paige's personal growth and development over the past few years have been remarkable, we're looking forward to seeing what she achieves next.

Take a look at our other stories we're sharing for Learning Disability Week.

Previous article

LD week exhibit item

Community Lives Contribute to Learning Disability Week Exhibition

In an exhibit supported by RBWM Library services, several local groups have come together to share their experiences of living life with a Learning Disability in a special exhibit.