Self-concept in young adults with a learning disability from the Jewish community

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A small pilot study was conducted to explore the self-concept of young people with a learning disability from a Jewish community in an inner city area. Four young people participated in the project. All attended a college dedicated to the further education of people with special needs from the Jewish community. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with the participants. A low-technology augmentative communication strategy called ‘Talking Mats’ was employed [J. Murphy and L. Cameron (2002b)Talking Mats and learning disability: a low-tech resource to help people to express their views and feelings. Scotland, University of Stirling] to cater for the participant's varying communication needs. The participant placed relevant symbols on a mat to capture views expressed during interview. Three key themes emerged from the data: ‘being young’, ‘having a learning disability’ and ‘being Jewish’. The narratives associated with each theme were closely intertwined. Membership of the Jewish community was central to the concept of self. The research highlighted the importance of context and cultural belonging to the construction of identity. Use of ‘Talking Mats’ during interview proved an accessible format, both for exploring the views of people with learning disabilities, and providing them with feedback about the research.

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