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Am I being unreasonable to not consider depression, etc as "special needs?"

(21 Posts)
iwanttolearn Mon 15-Jun-09 14:47:29

Someone said to me today that society is full of people with mental illnesses. I was talking about learning difficulties. Yes, a lot of people do have depression and other conditions, but I wouldn't classify them on the same scale as a learning difficulty.

For one thing, living with a learning difficulties can is usually permanent. The man I was talking to didn't really understand when I tried to explain to him...

What does everyone think? If you were talking about autism or ds and someone said "depression and other conditions are similar" what would you say? I would say having an ld is very different!

iwanttolearn Mon 15-Jun-09 14:49:17

By the way, thread is not to offend anyone I'm just curious and am interested in knowing how others view this.

2shoes Mon 15-Jun-09 15:12:43

yanbu of course they are not the same.
I would feel the same if someone said it was the same as bing like dd in a wheelchair and tottally dependant on others.
depression can be controlled by drugs, but you can't do that with LD'S or autism or CP.

Greensleeves Mon 15-Jun-09 15:15:44

YANBU to feel that depression/mental illness differs from autism and other LDs

but YABU to say that depression is not a special need/disability in its own right

Childhood depression can be devastating, debilitating in every way and can destroy lives and affect families as much as any other disability or condition. Clinical depression can be hereditary and isn't always much more treatable than some more accepted SNs like Aspergers for example - the process of learning strategies, re-educating the brain chemistry and modifying behaviour can be quite similar.

I don't like SN-upmanship anyway, it's pointless and hurtful.

Greensleeves Mon 15-Jun-09 15:16:19

not all depression can be controlled with drugs, especially not in children.

Deathworm Mon 15-Jun-09 15:25:24

Of course the two things are very very different. But is there any need to think about ranking them in relation to one another? I don't know whether childhood depression could be as challenging or disabling as an LD -- I would imagine that in just a few cases it might well be. Extreme self-harm perhaps. Suicide. And it certainly isn't usually fully controllable by drugs.

I'm particularly worried by the slippage between mental illness and depression in the op. Depression is often (not always) mild, but there are other mental illnesses -- though perhaps not manifesting until late teens. Schizophrenia, personality disorders. I would hate to think of the terrible traumas involved for the families affected by these to have somehow to be ranked against (other sorts of) special needs.

Deathworm Mon 15-Jun-09 15:30:04

Learning difficulties and mental illnesses both range all the way across from relatively mildly debilitating to extremely severe.

FioFio Mon 15-Jun-09 15:45:00

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iwanttolearn Mon 15-Jun-09 15:52:16

Interesting thread, I'm glad I asked.

The person I was talking to today just mentioned that so many people had depression, and also other conditions, due to overworking, other stresses. At the time, I didn't see how this could be similar to LDs.

I see your point about clinical or childhood depression. I agree, things that occur in childhood can be especially hard. I would not say, however, that adult who are depressed due to overwork, have had aas rough of a time as kids with LDs/kids with severe depression, etc.

I do know someone with Munchausen's syndrome and in a way, her illness has affected a lot of people. Her life, in general, is still quite easy. I wouldn't say she had as difficult a time. I don't know anyone who is bipolar or any other condition, so I wasn't aware of how severe they could be.

iwanttolearn Mon 15-Jun-09 15:57:13

I think he might have been confused, Fio. I was trying to explain that learning disabilities weren't the same as depression. I know some adults with severe LDs and they are in residential care. Being depressed from overworking is not the same...

sarah293 Mon 15-Jun-09 16:19:22

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FioFio Mon 15-Jun-09 16:19:37

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ChopsTheDuck Mon 15-Jun-09 16:54:50

I don't think you can't really categorise conditions though. Some people have CP or autism mildly and aren't dependant on others.
My ds has dyspraxia and he is def disabled, I couldn't say he only has learning difficulties. Although his is compounded by HMS, there is a big overlap with autism, which you put under the disability list.

It comes down to how severe something is and how it affects the person. No doubt some people are disabled by depression or mental illness. I remember a lady in a nursing home I worked in who was there through severe untreatable depression. Was incapable of caring for herself and used a wheelchair for all but the shortest walks.

Deathworm Mon 15-Jun-09 17:09:07

Re Fio's point about her daughter's happiness and good quality of life, with a severe mental illness a high level of distress is almost a defining feature. I guess OCD, for example, would be called a mental illness, and can be horribly severely incapacitating and nightmarishly distressing for a child (or an adult), to the point of suicide.

But then (I think?) OCD can occur as a feature of Autism? So the whole business of distinguishing LDs and mental illnesses might not make sense always.

Terminology is a problem. Depression is used to cover a ridiculously wide range of things, from 'feeling stressed by life' to eg catatonia which might have an entirely organic/neurological cause.

HelensMelons Mon 15-Jun-09 17:13:38

I suppose for learning disability or mental health, it's about the wide range of difficulties that is encompassed and how the difficulties are managed, if they can be. I dont really feel that they can be compared because, at times, they can overlap. I think Fio's use of the word "vulnerability" really stands out; my ds2 (asd) is vulnerable and always will be.

BriocheDoree Mon 15-Jun-09 19:42:27

Hmm, it's a tricky one. Fio and Helen probably have it about right when they talk about vulnerability.
I have exp. of SN and mental illness and they can both be pretty debilitating.
My grandmother had bipolar disorder (manic depression as they called it then) and spent the last 20-30 years of her life in and out of hospital. The drugs they used to "control" (as far as they could) her symptoms had devastating effects on her health and eventually killed her (heart probs are a common side effect of lithium chloride). If you had seen her in a hospital room screaming and crying that she could not walk because she hadn't got a body, or couldn't eat because she hadn't got a mouth...
No, not the same as being in a wheelchair, of course not, but I've know quadriplegics who had a better quality of life, with the right support.
It's not really a valid comparison, IMHO.
Yes, sometimes depression only comes in cycles, and can be controlled or overcome. Like LDs, there are many different severities.
However, I suspect that Iwanttolearn was talking to someone who was pretty ignorant of both.
DD is physically fine (well, slightly delayed, but not so you'd really notice). However, her language difficulties are so severe that at times I do wonder if she will ever be able to live fully independently. Probably she will, but what I really hope for all our DCs is for a society that will accept and care for them and support them to be as independent and constructive as possible.
And that we don't all get depressed trying to get there!

cory Mon 15-Jun-09 20:27:27

and of course there are also all sorts of special needs which do not involve learning disabilities

and some forms of mental illness are curable

though a lot of them do tend to recur

and so on and so forth

lots of different constellations, lots of different degrees of severity

wb Mon 15-Jun-09 21:29:49

Actually, I do find your starting premise um, quite naive (am trying not to be insulted or insulting but it just makes me see red).

I have 2 friends with bi-polar disorder and it would be hard to see how their lives could be more totally trashed - it is not just a case of pop a few pills and away you go. Many people with bi-polar disorder do lead pretty good lives (kind of like many with ld I guess). Others live on the very margins of society, on the streets, in prison, in hospital - they are the ones we never hear about unless they injure a 'normal' person. No-one cares when they are killed, or kill themselves.

My brother has suffered from paranoia/schizophrenia since adolescence. For quite large periods of his life he (and God help me sometimes I) has thought he'd be better off dead. I don't think many familys of people with other disabilities feel that.

r3dh3d Mon 15-Jun-09 22:09:00

Well, it can sometimes be pretty ghastly. And of course there is overlap - you can get mental illness with some disabilities and some mental illness can effectively make the person disabled. But I know what you mean in that it's qualitatively different - saying it's not the same kind of thing doesn't mean you are saying it can't be as "bad" iyswim.

mysonben Mon 15-Jun-09 22:31:24

I agree with your views, not all mental illness = special needs. But i think it depends on the severity of the conditions involved. I mean a child with severe autism cannot be compared to an adult going through a bout of depression, but for example take an able adult with AS who has a job and lives independently as opposed to an adult with manic-depression who cannot keep a job and lives his life in and out of mental institutions , then the latter will be more SN than the AS person, kwim?

mumslife Tue 16-Jun-09 14:00:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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