Other Difficulties

SpLD or Specific Learning Difficulty is an umbrella term sometimes used as a synonym for dyslexia but also for a number of learning differences such as the following:

  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyspraxia (DCD)
  • Attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD / ADHD)
  • Autistic Spectrum Conditions

Neurodiversity is a farily new term that can also be used as an umbrella term for a range of learning differences. This term encompasses all specific learning difficulties (SpLD), many of which co-occur or overlap. 

Useful links:
Neurodiversity Celebration


As with any disability, no two individuals experience the same combination of difficulties and some people may exhibit signs of more than one SpLD.  Dyslexia can affect maths skills, particularly in areas of reversals, sequencing difficulties, memory difficulties, reading wordy maths problems, etc, but Dyscalculia is characterised by specific and persistent difficulties with understanding numbers (number sense). The individual’s approach to solving number problems may appear unconventional and limitations may be shown in the sequencing of calculations. They may have difficulty seeing the relationship between numbers, subitising, abstract concepts of time, shape, space and direction, following sequential instructions, with the sequence of events and memory for names. They may lack “big picture” thinking, are confused by timetables and may often be late or have a poor sense of direction.

Useful links:
The Dyscalculia and Dyslexia Interest Group
BDA – Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and Maths
The Dyscalculia Centre


Dysgraphia is a term more commonly used outside the UK.  It identifies a specific difficulty in writing resulting in written work which may be illegible and inaccurately spelled. Script may feature irregular letter sizes and shapes, a mixture of upper and lower case letters or of print and cursive letters.  Dysgraphia contributes to difficulties in using writing as a communication tool, causes fatigue and interferes with the communication of ideas.  Written work appears at variance with the person’s intelligence or their ability to read.  People with dysgraphia often lack fine motor skills.

Useful links:

Dyspraxia /DCD

Dyspraxia or Developmental Cordination Disorder characteristically involves difficulties with gross and/or fine motor movements, co-ordination, spatial awareness, perception, language, short-term memory, planning and organisation. Dyspraxia may also be associated with other specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome. As a result of the difficulties they experience, people with dyspraxia may be prone to stress and anxiety.

Useful links:
Dyspraxia Foundation


Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are characterised by disruptive behaviours that cannot be described as being of a psychiatric nature. People with ADD/ADHD have difficulty focussing their attention for long enough to complete a specific task, can be hyperactive and impulsive, and can suffer from mood swings and have under-developed social skills.  There is research evidence showing that those with ADD are at higher risk of depression or anxiety whilst those with ADHD are more prone to behavioural problems.

Useful links:

Autistic Spectrium Conditions

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism may also have other conditions, meaning people need different levels and types of support.

Difficulties may include difficulty dealing with change and difficulty reading non-verbal clues. The former can cause unexpected responses to surroundings and the latter gives rise to problems with social interactions. People with autism may become preoccupied with a particular subject of interest or develop obsessive routines and may find it difficult to focus on a particular task. Difficulty in discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information, sensory sensitivities, a literal approach to written work, acute anxiety and dyspraxia are more common in people with ASC.

Useful links:
Bristol Autism Support