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Many Underestimate Those With Intellectual Disabilities, Poll Finds

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Misconceptions about people with intellectual disabilities and discrimination against them are rampant in Britain, a new poll suggests.

One in three adults in the United Kingdom do not believe those with intellectual disabilities are capable of living independently or having a job, according to findings from a poll of more than 1,100 adults that was conducted by Turning Point, a British health and social services provider.

Meanwhile, half of those polled said they believe people with intellectual disabilities — or learning disabilities, as the diagnosis is called in Britain — are the most discriminated group in the UK, surpassing both gay and ethnic minority populations.

When asked to describe characteristics of those with intellectual disabilities, respondents were more likely to say that people in this group have poor social skills, get aggressive and have slurred speech as opposed to more positive attributes like being funny or extroverted.

Limited knowledge of people with intellectual disabilities is likely behind the findings, those who conducted the research say.

“We need to work together to challenge preconceptions and show what a positive contribution to society people with a learning disability can make,” said Adam Penwarden, director of learning disability services at Turning Point. “This includes working, living independently and playing an active role within the local community.”

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