Moderate learning difficulties (MLD) is sometimes referred to as global learning difficulties. Children with MLD experience difficulty with learning. A general developmental delay can cause lower educational attainment than would be expected for their age. Children with MLD may also have associated difficulties such as dyspraxia.
What is MLD?
Children with MLD may appear to be less mature than their contemporaries; they may have social difficulties which make it hard to make friends. This can mean they find school hard and can experience bullying. A child with MLD may also have challenging behaviour resulting from their finding both learning and communication difficult.
What are the signs of MLD?
A child with MLD may have some or all of the following:
Delay and problems with reading, writing and numeracy - this can cause a lack of confidence in any skills they do have in these areas
Difficulty with understanding basic ideas and concepts
Poor problem solving skills
Difficulty in applying learning to different situations
Poor visual and/or auditory memory
Difficulty dealing with personal organisation
Poor fine and gross motor skills
Difficulty with memory and remembering what they’ve learned
Emotional and behavioural concerns
Lack of social skills
Speech and language delay
How can you help a child with MLD?
Children with MLD benefit from a regular routine and structure. The following may also help:
Give the child responsibilities and encourage them
Praise and rewards for academic achievement but also for effort and positive behaviour
Set realistic expectations so that success is achievable
Give clear instructions and ask the child to repeat them back to you so that they can be confident they have understood
Check understanding at every stage of a task
Adopt different learning styles, showing as well as telling and providing opportunities for multi-sensory and practical learning
Allow for breaks between short bursts of learning
Using ICT equipment where appropriate
Facilitating friendship groups
Provide positive role models
Choosing a school for a child with MLD
Many children with MLD do very well in mainstream school. Look for a school with a well qualified SENCo who is prepared to fight for extra support.
It’s likely that by the time they reach secondary school children with MLD will find the demands too much and they may need to move to a more specialised environment.