Children with learning difficulties Learning difficulties have been defined through norm-referenced IQ testing and through the use of norm-referenced developmental scales. They have also been defined in terms of different types of curricular need and the age at which learning problems first appear. A definitive definition is not considered possible. In practice, those pupils who have learning difficulties are seen as lying along a continuum from mild through moderate to severe. The prevalence rate has been stated as somewhere between 12 and 30 per cent of the school population. These children tend to have lower achievement levels and are slower in negotiating developmental stages or coping with developmental tasks. Many of those with mild to moderate difficulties only become noticeable when they enter primary or even secondary education. They are often poor in their use of expressive language, showing poor comprehension and manifesting slow progress in acquiring literacy and numeracy skills. Additionally, they may lack strategies for organising and using appropriate knowledge and skills. Their social skills may also be inadequate and they may have emotional and behavioural difficulties. Teachers tend to attribute learning difficulties to within child factors and emotional and behavioural difficulties to home circumstances and/or parents or carers. These children may also have attentional, auditory and visual difficulties. Children with a variety or range of difficulties are described as having complex learning difficulties. Children with mild or moderate difficulties frequently display the following characteristics: a low level of retention, a restricted vocabulary, monosyllabic responses to questioning, limited oral and written expression, difficulties in generalisation and problems in transferring knowledge and skills from one context to another.