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Making a difference to the lives of people with severe learning disabilities

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When people with severe learning disabilities are genuinely visible and included in society, they can live great lives. If they truly belong in communities and get the right support, they bring unique and valuable talents and contributions. Erren Wheatland, Head of Health & Clinical Governance at Achieve together and Samir, an advocate for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), will share some inspiring stories.


Dawn Rooke, who is mum to two adults with a learning disability and autism, will share her lived experience. As a carer co-trainer for the Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF), Dawn will also talk about what the CBF does, how the Family Support Team works and highlight some useful resources for family carers and professionals working with adults with severe learning disabilities.

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Recorded: Wednesday 5th October 2022

Description: ‘Challenging behaviour’ or ‘behaviour that challenges’ refers to a range of behaviours that some people with severe learning disabilities display when their needs aren’t being met. This includes hurting others, self-injury, destructive behaviours and eating inedible objects. These behaviours can be very distressing for a child or adult with learning disabilities and their family and carers.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF) is the only UK charity specifically focused on the needs of children and adults with severe learning disabilities whose behaviour challenges, and their families. The CBF ensures that people with severe learning disabilities who display behaviours that challenge get the support, opportunities, and services to meet their needs – with the understanding and respect they deserve.

Achieve together will ask: how can we make sure people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PLMD) are visible, valued and included? What can we do to make a difference to the lives of people with PMLD?

About the Speakers


SamirSamir is a bright, charismatic, sociable person with a remarkable personality. Samir has profound and multiple learning disabilities, he is a member of a ground-breaking self-advocacy group, Campaign 4 Change, and advocates for people with PMLD. He has presented at the LDE National Conference in 2020, and more recently online at the LDE Conference this year.


Erren Wheatland

Erren Wheatland ErrenWheatland is a dual registered nurse (adult and children), she has a BSC in Professional Practice and a PGC in the Epilepsies. Erren works at Achieve together as Head of Health & Clinical Governance. Erren’s career predominately has been supporting children, young people and adults with PMLD, complex health needs and life-limiting conditions in managerial and educational roles. Erren’s career was inspired by her parents who as well as raising their own children, have always fostered children with learning disabilities and complex health needs. Erren is also a parent to a teenage girl with autism.


Dawn Rooke

Dawn RookeDawn Rooke is a carer co-trainer for the Challenging Behaviour Foundation, helping to support families who have a loved one who displays behaviour that challenges. She is mum to two adults with a learning disability and autism and was diagnosed as autistic herself at the age of 51. She has a degree in Health and Social Care, which she obtained whilst carrying out her caring role. Dawn has also been an ‘Expert by Experience’ on the Transforming Care programme since it started in 2015, a facilitator for the ‘Managing Anger’ course developed by the National Autistic Society, and a member of the team delivering the ‘Positive Caring’ programme in Gloucestershire. She currently helps write life plans for people with ‘I’m Out of Here Ltd’ and recently set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) with colleagues from the Carers Charity to support and help families. Though this, she was involved in a pilot for the ‘Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Autism and Learning Disabilities’. Her passion is striving for equality for all carers and individuals, ensuring families have quality care and support, and helping improve practice. She says she is always learning.

About the Host

Alison Bloomer

Alison Bloomer Host picture

Alison Bloomer, Online Editor Learning Disability Today, Managing Editor of GM Journal and The British Journal of Family Medicine, published by Pavilion. She is also mum to three children, one of whom has global developmental delay.

Sponsored by: Achieve together

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Achieve together is one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist support for people with learning disabilities, autism, and associated complex needs. We currently provide the best specialist support to over 2,300 young people and adults in over 400 homes and services across England and Wales. We are dedicated to empowering the individuals we support, helping them to live happy, healthy, and meaningful lives. We do this by supporting them to develop skills for life and healthy relationships, as well as helping to boost their confidence and self-esteem. We harness over 25 years of expertise and insight in providing high-quality care and support, with a team of over 6,000 compassionate and dedicated team members putting the people we support, and their families, at the heart of everything we do.

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