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Specific learning difficulties often occur in people of average or above average intelligence and they involve problems with one or more of the basic processes used in understanding or using spoken or written language. Examples of SpLD's are dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia. Difficulties experienced may include problems with word recognition, aspects of reading comprehension, aspects of writing and/or spelling. The exact nature and extent of these difficulties will vary from one student to another.

SpLD's have only recently been identified and still often go undiagnosed. Assessment of the disability is required to establish the type of support and services the student will require. Therefore, students should be referred to an Educational Psychologist for a formal assessment to determine the extent of their difficulties.



Many students with dyslexia experience word recognition difficulties and problems with keeping their place in dense text. They may often have a poor reading speed and memory problems, which results in difficulties with digesting large quantities of text fully and within specific timescales. Other difficulties encountered include preparation and organisation of written work, difficulties with handwriting, spelling, sentence structure and punctuation. Students with dyslexia may need alternative ways to take notes because they have difficulty with remembering, writing and organising information while listening to a lecture.


Dyspraxia is an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement.

The way in which the brain processes information results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. Dyspraxia is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.

The most common difficulties experienced by adults with dyspraxia are:

  • Gross Motor co-ordination skills
  • Fine motor co-ordination skills - lack of manual dexterity, poor manipulative skills, difficulty with dressing
  • Speech and Language - talk continuously; repeat themselves, unclear speech, uncontrolled pitch, volume and rate
  • Eye movements - poor tracking movements, poor relocating
  • Perception - poor visual perception, over sensitive to noise, lack awareness of spatial relationships, poor sense of time, speed, distance and direction
  • Learning, thought and memory - poor memory, organisation skills, accuracy problems, difficulties following instructions, concentration, slow to finish a task
  • Emotion and behaviour - difficulty with non verbal cues, tendency to take things literally, impulsive

  Many of these characteristics are not unique to people with dyspraxia and not even the most severe case will have all the above characteristics.

For more detailed information, please visit the following web-site: The Dyspraxia Foundation


Dyscalculia is a difficulty performing mathematical calculations. Underlying causes include:Visual processing weakness - a certain amount of visualisation of numbers and situations is needed to be successful in solving mathematical problems Sequencing problems - students may experience difficulties with sequencing and organising detailed information. They may have difficulty remembering specific facts and formulas for completing calculations.

For more detailed information, please visit the following web-site: Information on Dyscalculia

Aspergers Syndrome

Asperger's Syndrome is a complex brain disorder that falls within the autism spectrum. Generally, people with Asperger's Syndrome have a very high IQ but extremely poor social and communication skills. Common characteristics include; lack of empathy, little ability to form relationships, one-sided conversations and intense absorption in a special interest.

As social interaction is so intrinsic to the way that most teaching and learning takes place, students with autism or Asperger's Syndrome may find the experience of higher education daunting. People with Asperger's Syndrome are usually reliant on fixed routines and may not know how to approach changes in that routine. They often display repetitive behaviours, such as sitting in the same seat. Students with Asperger's Syndrome are likely to use language literally, finding it difficult to understand metaphors, jokes or abstract concepts.

It is important to note that Asperger's Syndrome can range in severity and how it affects each individual will be very unique. All the traits described above are unlikely to be present in every individual with Asperger's Syndrome.

For more detailed information, please visit the following web-sites: The National Autistic Society