Hi readers.

It’s William here this week. Recently I met with Leyla from Turkey, who used to manage a centre for people with all sorts of disabilities in Cappadocia.

I wanted to find out from Leyla what life is like for people with learning disabilities in Turkey.  

What I learnt is that it may not sometimes be as good as here. There are centres for people with learning disabilities in Turkey, some of which are government funded. But the care and availability can vary.     

For example, a child who has Downs Syndrome was recently living in her town. The whole family chose to move 500 miles to Istanbul so he could attend a private school which could support him. If he had stayed in her town, he would have gone to the mainstream school but would not have had the specialist education or support he needed.

Leyla also told me how lonely and socially isolated people with disabilities can also feel in Turkey. She said what is most sad is how she noticed people were becoming accustomed and accepting of feeling lonely – not a good thing. She felt people were, like all of us, simply wanting acceptance, friendship and love.  

The government is not really addressing it either. She has noticed that people with learning disabilities in the UK and some European countries are starting to appear in TV shows – but in Turkey they are still more likely to be a subject of ridicule. The more this happens, the less likely it is to change public perceptions for the better.

Leyla and I both agree that we think there needs to be more acceptance, understanding and awareness of learning disabilities in all countries. If we ever get to that place, where society is accepting and welcoming, that would be a really good thing. 

Adam and William are supported in their editing by The Friendship Club– a project for adults with learning disabilities, run by People First Dorset.