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Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties

Dyslexia is one of several Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), and is a literacy difficulty. People with dyslexia are affected to differing degrees, with the main problems being in reading quickly, spelling words, writing words, processing language and working memory. 

The cause of dyslexia is unknown but is thought to run in families.  It is important to remember that dyslexia can affect any individual and can be part of a more complex picture. Dyslexia can be supported with reasonable adjustments and a language friendly environment, intervention and additional support in testing. Dyslexia can be formally assessed by a qualified and registered practitioner. 

Other SpLDs include dyspraxia, dyscalculia and ADD/ADHD. All affect the way information is learned and processed. These are all neurological conditions rather than psychological and as with dyslexia, are unrelated to the person’s intelligence level. They can have a significant impact on a person’s education, especially literacy skills.

Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) affects fine and/or gross motor coordination, core stability, language processing and sensory processing. Again, intellectual ability is not affected by or linked to this disorder, and difficulties may present differently from person to person. Dyspraxia requires medical diagnosis and support from Occupational Therapy. 

Dyscalculia is a difficulty in understanding maths concepts and symbols. It is characterised by an inability to master or understand basic concepts of number, with a difficulty in dealing with numbers at elementary levels. This can include telling the time, time keeping, understanding quantities and prices and dealing with money. Difficulties with numeracy are common in people with dyscalculia. Dyslexia and Dyscalculia can both be present. 

ADD/ADHD is characterised by very short concentration that does not develop in line with peers. There may be restlessness, impulsiveness, social and communication difficulties, unpredictable and inappropriate behaviour. Some children with ADD/ADHD may unintentionally come across as aggressive. 

The term Attention Deficit Disorder is used where no hyperactivity is present but a significantly short concentration that does not develop within normal parameters. These individuals have difficulty in remaining focused and so may appear "dreamy” or "in a world of their own.” People with this condition are very easily distracted and may also have poor listening skills and language processing and display an inability to follow instructions.

Some organisations that can offer advice and support:

The British Dyslexia Association

The Dyslexia SpLD Trust

Dyslexia Assist

The dyspraxia Foundation

The dyscalculia Centre

The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service

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