A GP guide to parenting support for patients with intellectual disability

GPs can make a big difference to the health, safety and wellbeing of children born to a parent with intellectual disability. Here’s how.

Need to know:

  • The legal right of people with intellectual disability to be parents is enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability, which also establishes their right to receive appropriate supports to help them parent well.
  • Parenting is a learned set of skills, developed ‘on the job’. With the right support — provided by GPs and others — parents with intellectual disability can provide the type of care and home environments that help children thrive.
  • People with intellectual disabilities can learn parenting skills but may require more time, more structured learning opportunities, repeated opportunities to practise and specific teaching strategies.
  • GPs play a vital role in the lives of children born to parents with intellectual disability, starting in pregnancy, when appropriate communication with the parent can mean the difference between a high-risk pregnancy and a healthy birth