Specific learning difficulties

A specific learning difficulty (SpLD) is a difference or difficulty with some aspects of learning. The most common SpLDs are conditions such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) can also come under this category. Information and advice for ADHD is listed on a separate page.

Specific learning disorders are different from learning disabilities because they do not affect a person’s general intellect.

There is often an overlap with more than one recognised SpLD. An individual may experience a combination of difficulties. This may lead to a diagnosis of specific learning difficulty rather than one named SpLD.

Children and young people with specific learning difficulties can struggle in education environments. They may experience low self-esteem and poor self-confidence without support. It is important for them to understand that their brain may process information differently.

All young people are individual and learn at different rates. However, if they are not making similar progress to their peers, class assessments can help to identify the specific skill areas they are finding difficult and put effective teaching support in place.

For advice and support, speak to the following:

  • Your child’s GP, health visitor or school nurse
  • Your child’s nursery, school, college or other educational setting

Dyslexia differs from other SpLD’s in that it does not fall under the remit of the health service. In this case, advice is to discuss your child’s difficulties with their educational setting. Further advice and support can be obtained from the organisations listed under the Useful Links section.

More information on how schools can support children and young people’s learning needs can be found in SEND Inclusion Guidance:

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