What are Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs)?

Uni students working in group


Specific Learning Difficulties, or SpLDs, affect the way information is learned and processed. Specific Learning Difficulties are a category of neurodevelopmental disorders that primarily impact a person’s ability to acquire and use certain academic skills.

SpLDs are believed to affect at least 10% of the population. They usually run in families and do not affect the individual’s intelligence; however, they can have a significant impact on the individual’s education and learning.

SpLD is an umbrella term used to refer to a range of difficulties. The most common SpLDs include:

  • Dyslexia

Dyslexia is perhaps the most well-known SpLDs. It affects reading and language-related skills. Individuals with dyslexia may struggle with decoding words, spelling, and reading comprehension. However, they often possess strong creative and problem-solving abilities.

  • Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia refers to difficulties with mathematical skills. Individuals with dyscalculia may find it challenging to understand number concepts, perform basic calculations, and solve mathematical problems. Nevertheless, they can excel in other areas.

  • Dyspraxia

Dyspraxia involves issues with motor coordination and physical movements. People with dyspraxia may have difficulty with activities such as handwriting, tying shoelaces, or using utensils. However, despite these challenges, they can have excellent cognitive abilities.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is characterised by difficulties with attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity. Therefore, it can significantly impact a student’s ability to concentrate and organise their thoughts for learning.


How do Specific Learning Difficulties affect learning?

SpLDs affect the way that information is learned and processed. Many learners with an SpLD can manage at school, however many find that the pace, volume of work and level of study may compound their difficulties, particularly as they progress in their education journey.

The range of characteristics will vary from person to person. Here are some examples of the most common characteristic effects of dyslexia and other SpLDs:

  • Taking longer to complete tasks compared to other students
  • Difficulties in organising work, and possibly other aspects of their lives
  • Errors when reading and spelling such as muddling words
  • Difficulties in sequencing letters when spelling, or numbers and signs in maths
  • Lack of confidence
  • Poor concentration
  • Susceptible to stress which may be associated with meeting deadlines or taking exams
  • Difficulties with time management
  • Difficulties with reading and/or writing
  • Sensory overload, which results in heightened sensitivity to visual stimuli, or trouble coping with busy environments


Support for learning difficulties

We understand that every student’s journey is unique.

By recognising and understanding the difficulties that learners with SpLDs face, we can work towards a more inclusive and accommodating educational system.

Moreover, with the right support and strategies in place, individuals with SpLDs can overcome obstacles and thrive academically and personally, proving that diversity in learning styles is a strength to be celebrated.


Book a diagnostic assessment with Simply Thrive

At Simply Thrive, we provide diagnostic assessments for SpLDs. For more information and to book your diagnostic assessment, visit the Simply Thrive website