Specific Learning Difficulties


Specific Learning Difficulties-(SpLD’s) describes a range of issues which are complex and interrelated. These difficulties affect the way information is learned and processed. There is usually a genetic factor in SpLD’s and someone else in the family may have similar difficulties.


It is important to note that SpLD’s can affect individuals of differing intellectual abilities. Intellectual giftedness can be present alongside the specific difficulties. An assessment will identify particular strengths as well as weaknesses.


A diagnostic assessment can highlight other specific difficulties apart from dyslexia and our assessment reports will provide advice about seeking further investigation.


SpLD’s are commonly:



Dyspraxia/ Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)



Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome


Brief outline of key features of SpLD’s - please see links for further information.




Dyslexia is characterised by difficulties with working memory, phonological processing (manipulation of sounds), processing speed and rapid naming. It affects the development of reading and spelling skills. Dyslexia can affect receptive and expressive language skills and early intervention can help to reduce the long-term impacts of dyslexia.


Visual Stress, also known as Meares-Irlen’s Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity can affect many dyslexic individuals. Visual stress is sensitivity to visual patterns which can interfere with reading. Words can blur or move around and letters may change shape or size. Some people find reading from white paper causes glare. Visual stress may be reduced by the use of coloured filters or overlays and a visit to a specialist optometrist is advised.


Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)


Dyspraxia is characterised by difficulties with physical coordination (both fine and gross motor skills) and also weakness with visuo-spatial awareness, attention, memory and organisational skills. In daily tasks there may be difficulties with, for example, poor perception of time, driving and parking a car, poor sense of direction, procrastination and problems with prioritising and organisation of tasks.




The DfE defines dyscalculia as: ‘A condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.’


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


A medical practitioner would be required to make a diagnosis of ADHD.

The main characteristics are significant difficulties with sustaining attention and concentration. Auditory memory and listening skills may be affected. Managing emotions, anxiety, forgetfulness and maintaining focus may also be apparent.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome


A medical practitioner would be required to make a diagnosis of ASD.

‘ASD can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three categories:

  • problems and difficulties with social interaction – including lack of understanding and awareness of other people's emotions and feelings
  • impaired language and communication skills – including delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them properly
  • unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour – including making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting (the child develops set routines of behaviour and can get upset if the routines are broken)’


Asperger’s Syndrome describes those on the autistic spectrum who are regarded as ‘high functioning’. Their ability to focus intensely on a particular topic (for example, the study of codes and encryption systems) may be highly valued in the workplace.








Specific learning difficulties spld dyslexia visual stress adhd