Specific Learning Disabilities (SpLD) refer to a particular difficulty or need within learning. The most common SpLDs are:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyspraxia [Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)]
  • Attention Deficit [Hyperactivity] Disorder (AD[H]D)


How does Dyslexia affect learning?

Auditory Processing: Can be hard to tell the difference between certain sounds, therefore there could be spelling mistakes.

Visual Processing: Text can appear to float around the page. So can be hard to track text when reading. However words and letters could be recognised, just in the wrong order.

Motor Processing: There may be difficulties with handwriting and pronouncing longer words.

Short Term Memory: Can be difficult to remember instructions as well as long sentences.

Support with Dyslexia

Repetition: Use short commands and repeat

Visuals: Use Visuals where possible to support speech and text. If using written text see if the young person requires a coloured overlay and remind them to bring it

Small Groups: Small groups and sometimes individual interaction work best to allow the brain to process information without any background noise


How does Dyspraxia affect Learning?

Gross Motor Skills: There may be poor body and spatial awareness, as well as balance and other gross motor skills such as: standing; lifting; and kicking.

Fine Motor Skills: There could be difficulty with drawing, writing and tasks such as shading or labelling. Scissors and small buttons may also be difficulty and tasks such as painting can use a lot more concentration.

Organisation: Personal organisation tends to be poor and normally could be late or doing tasks at the wrong time. This links with a difficulty of retrieving knowledge.

Support for Dyspraxia (DCD)

Functional Tasks: Complex tasks such as some knots can prove difficult ensure there is a functional, more every day task, available for young people.

‘Little and Often’: Multiple short sessions are better than a prolonged task, try and use a station method where young people can change frequently.

Cognitive Strategies: Break down tasks into smaller ‘chunks’ and ensure there is an end goal that is clear and defined. If a worked example can be shown then that would prove useful.


What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a condition that affects written work. Often handwriting is poorly formed, and consists of a mixture of block and cursive letters, as well as various sizes of letters. Handwriting is a fine motor skill and as such a person may struggle with other fine motor skill tasks especially with a time limit.

Support for Dysgraphia

Group Work: Does the young person have to write or can someone else.

Technology: Is Speech to Text software useful for your task? Could a keyboard be used?

Speech Would a conversation suffice instead of written work, how about voice recording?


Dyscalculia affects the understanding of number concepts.

Attention Deficit [Hyperactivity] Disorder

How does AD[H]D affect Learning?

Attention Span: A person may be able to sit still, but not be focused and as such may miss important points.

Staying on task: Repetitive tasks tend to be boring, and if low priority generally do not get completed unless a person enjoys them.

Short-term memory: There maybe issues where a person has difficulty remembering and recalling new knowledge and skills. A person may also forget to make notes or write things down.