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Dyslexia is one of a small group of Specific Learning Difficulties/Differences (SpLD), which also includes dysgraphia (handwriting) and dyscalculia (maths). 


Dyspraxia (Development Co-ordination Disorder), Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, Developmental Language Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder may co-occur with one or more SpLDs.

The term 'SpLD' should not be confused with Learning Disability (LD). LD is a term used by health professionals to describe a person whose difficulties are more global in nature. SpLD is an educational term referring to a difficulty in one or more specific areas of learning. This is independent of intelligence, socio-economic or language background.

Specific Learning Difficulties

Mother and Son
Students with iPad

The presence of a SpLD does not predict academic ability. However, it is likely to take more effort to achieve and strategies will need to be developed to maximise potential.


SpLDs tend to overlap and may also co-occur. They can affect reading, spelling, comprehension, inference, numeracy, working memory, reading speed, writing speed, organisational skills, attention and other skills.


The effects of a SpLD should be considered to be on a continuum from mild to severe. Likewise, each individual area of difficulty will be affected on the same continuum, potentially giving a very uneven profile of skills. It is therefore, more important to concentrate on the effects of the SpLD and not on the label itself, to ensure that the individual is suitably supported.

Definition of Disability

‘A physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities

There is no need for you to have a medically diagnosed cause for your impairment; what matters is the effect of the impairment on you.

Those whose SpLD affect them quite mildly are likely to fall outside of the definition of disability. However, those moderately to severely affected are likely to be considered to be disabled. It is this latter group who are protected under the Equality Act 2010, and can request Reasonable Adjustments to be made for them in situations that may be disabling, such as during exams or office work.

Bren Prendergast  Specialist Teacher (SEND)

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