Within Issue 100: Celebrating the 100th issue of PMLD LINK

The Winter 2021 issue of the journal is special. PMLD Link will be celebrating our 100th issue of the journal. When PMLD Link started out in 1988 it produced a very basic, hand-typed newsletter – a simple bulletin, created to share relevant information and help isolated professionals feel connected. Our early publications had their roots in education and ‘subscribers’ worked mostly within specialist school settings – day schools, residential schools and ‘school units’ within long-stay hospitals. Some learners at this time lived on the wards of these institutions.

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities were largely invisible and too often experienced exclusion – even within dedicated, specialist settings. In 1988, a right to education was still relatively new. Prior to 1971 ‘mentally handicapped’ learners were excluded completely, deemed ‘ineducable’. The Education (Handicapped Children) Act of 1970 established their entitlement to an education at school. Special schools at this time routinely had ‘Special Care’ classes where they grouped together learners with PMLD regardless of age (from 2years – often to students well into their mid-20’s), but too often this group were viewed as separate from the main school. There was an active national agenda to move people with learning disabilities out of hospitals and residential institutions and into ordinary homes in our local communities. This population were some of the last people to move.

Pioneering practitioners and researchers were developing knowledge and understanding of relevant techniques and approaches to best support and enable people with PMLD in all aspects of their lives. The well-rooted origins of interactive and sensory approaches were strong drivers for innovation and change. A better understanding of the health needs of this population, medical advancements and technology were creating new possibilities.

Over the thirty-plus years of PMLD Link’s existence, we have broadened our reach to address the needs of both children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities by sharing information and ideas to everyone involved – whether families or professionals, across education, health, social care, arts, community, research and beyond. PMLD Link is dependent upon voluntary contributions and we do wholeheartedly thank people for sharing their good practice and ideas and reflections over the decades? We could not have continued to produce the journal without you.

But what of the actual lives and experiences of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). Have lives changed since our first issue of the PMLD Link publication 33 years ago, and how? Do individuals have the quality of life outlined by the benchmarks in the PMLD Standards (Doukas et al., 2017)? Do the standards reflect the best life or do we need to update them?

We invite you to tell us about the reality in 2021. We are very keen to hear inspiring stories and great achievements, but we are just as eager for you to share the shortfalls and obstacles – hopefully with your ideas of what needs to happen to address these. Tell us what has happened since Issue 1 of PMLD Link that you feel is important to highlight! Let us know about any past article that has really resonated with you and that you would like to highlight to others, especially to newer readers who may not have read it!

Feel free to contact us if you want to contribute to Issue 100 – we’re happy to help!

Please send your articles, stories, news items, relevant information or resources by Friday 29th October to: info@pmldlink.org.uk; or annie.fergusson@outlook.com

The Summer issue editors are Annie Fergusson, Sue Thurman and Bella Travis.

If you want submit a piece or want further guidance or just want to discuss your ideas, please contact them by e-mail at: