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Learning Difficulties Explained


Children with Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), also known as global learning difficulties, have a general developmental delay. They have difficulties with learning across all areas of the school curriculum. Children with MLD comprise the largest group of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools. Many of these children have a delay of about three years and consequently need a high level of support within the mainstream classroom. Many children with moderate learning difficulties will also be suffering from low levels of self-esteem and motivation. They may become resentful and refuse to attempt new work as they perceive themselves as likely to fail before they start. It is likely that they will become over-reliant on teaching assistants to help them with tasks and they will need much encouragement and praise to persuade them to attempt new challenges which are within their capability and develop greater independence.

Children with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) experience significant intellectual cognitive impairments having a major effect on their ability to participate in the school curriculum without support. They may have difficulties with mobility and coordination, communication and perception and the acquisition of self-help skills and need support in all areas of the curriculum. Some may use signs and symbols but most will be able to hold simple conversations. For much of their schooling, attainment will be ‘within the upper P scale range.