It's still early days for mindfulness interventions which try to address the particular needs of people with learning disabilities/intellectual impairment. Many of the published papers have focused on helping people learn a ‘Soles of the Feet’ practice to cope when they find life difficult, and an excellent Youtube video shows members of a Self Advocacy group who share their knowledge about mindfulness.
The University of Bangor has produced some helpful guidelines for people working in this area - ‘Good Practice Guidelines: mindfulness based programmes for people with learning disabilities’
At Sussex Partnership, a group of us who are Learning Disability practitioners, and who are also trained mindfulness teachers, have already begun to run mindfulness groups for children/young people and adults with learning disabilities.
We have received regular supervision from Bridgette O’Neill, which has helped us think through a number of different relevant issues. We regularly support a local L’Arche community, and they agreed to be a pilot site to help us develop mindfulness groups. An initial group was run in the Summer of 2019 (reporting back in a workshop at the annual Sussex Mindfulness Centre conference in October 2019). A second group started in February 2020, but has not yet completed due to Covid-19.
Some of the things we have been doing
We have tried to ‘distil the essence’ of both the Mindfulness-based cognitve cognitive therapy and Mindfulness-based stress reduction traditional eight-week mindfulness courses into our own simpler eight week format, and hope to produce a group protocol and adapted participant pack.
We have borrowed and created several different accessible resources for mindfulness practice, such as visual/sensory prompts to help explain concepts and simplify practices. We are aware of the need for ongoing creative development of these resources
We have recruited a local self-advocate with an interest in and experience of mindfulness. She has been participating in the most recent group and supporting facilitators, and is interested in helping with groups in the future
We have liaised with others working in other areas of the country.
We are working to evaluate our groups, possibly via interviews with participants after completing the course.
Our learning disability practitioners have made available a series of practices, including body scans, mountain breathing, sitting meditation and soles of the feet. Download them here