Experience of Partner Selection and Relationships for People with Learning Disabilities

PhD Thesis


Bates, C (2015). Experience of Partner Selection and Relationships for People with Learning Disabilities. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Health and Social Care
AuthorsBates, C
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

This original research presents first-hand accounts of intimate aspects of relationships
for people with learning disabilities. Until relatively recently, people with learning
disabilities have been prevented or strongly discouraged from engaging in
relationships. The aim of the research was to understand what adults with learning
disabilities look for in a partner and how these choices influence the relationships they
experience. There has been minimal research which has explored the experiences of
people with learning disabilities in relationships and no studies to date which have
focused on partner section for this group.
A hermeneutic phenomenological study, guided by the theory of Van Manen (1990),
was conducted to directly explore participants’ understandings of relationships. In-depth
interviews were conducted with eleven participants and their interviews were
transcribed to produce written narratives. Their narrative accounts and other
information were utilised to develop participants’ stories in order to enable readers to
understand the experience of being a person with a learning disability in a relationship.
The stories were analysed using an initial exploratory thematic analysis. A second
hermeneutic phenomenological analysis was conducted on the interview transcripts to
identify themes. The findings were examined in relation to attachment theory and
Maslow’s theory of motivation which attribute different levels of significance to love and
relationships.
The analysis revealed that, for people with learning disabilities, love was a ‘basic need’.
Participants wanted a partner to love and to be loved by, someone who treated them
kindly, who was affectionate and who provided companionship. Participants had to
overcome significant barriers such as experiences of abuse and abandonment to
develop relationships. Participants continued to experience other barriers such as a
lack of autonomy due to the influence of staff, family or living environment, as well as
limited social circles and a lack of life opportunities. The research identified that all
participants had been able to overcome the barriers to the development of
relationships. The facilitators to relationships included support from staff, positive role
models within the family, physical affection and companionship. Maslow’s hierarchy
was revised to reflect the value of having a loving relationship with a committed partner
to people with learning disabilities and to identify the support they required to facilitate
and maintain this.

Year2015
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.18744/PUB.001965
Publication dates
Print01 Aug 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Mar 2018
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/8763v

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Related outputs

Partner Selection for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Bates, C, Terry, LM and Popple, K (2016). Partner Selection for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.
The Importance of Romantic Love to People with Learning Disabilities
Bates, C, Terry, LM and Popple, K (2016). The Importance of Romantic Love to People with Learning Disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. 45 (1), pp. 64-72.
Supporting people with learning disabilities to make and maintain intimate relationships
Bates, C, Terry, LM and Popple, K (2017). Supporting people with learning disabilities to make and maintain intimate relationships. Tizard Learning Disability Review. 22 (1), pp. 16-23.