Dyslexia / SpLD descriptors

  • These have been taken from SpLD Working Group 2005 DfES guidelines.

    Students with SpLDs will present with significant and persistent difficulties despite appropriate learning opportunities even when additional educational provision has been made available.

    Those affected by dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, attention deficit disorder or any combination of these learning difficulties often underachieve within the education system unless they receive appropriate support enabling them to minimise their weaknesses and utilise their strengths. Many underperform in examinations.

    Both the severity of the impairment and the effectiveness of compensatory strategies vary widely.

    • Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties; the difficulties affect the learning process in aspects of literacy and sometimes numeracy.
    • Getting through required reading is generally seen as the biggest challenge at Higher Education level due in part to inability to skim and scan written material. 
    • A student may also have an inability to write ideas so that they are clearly expressed and in a style appropriate to the level of study.
    • Marked and persistent weaknesses may be identified in working memory, speed of processing, sequencing skills, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills.
    • Visio-spatial skills, creative thinking and intuitive understanding are less likely to be impaired and indeed may be outstanding.
    • Enabling technology is often found to be very beneficial.
    • More information can be obtained from the British Dyslexia Association.
    • A student with dyspraxia may have an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement, often appearing clumsy.
    • Gross and fine motor skills (related to balance and co-ordination) and fine motor skills (relating to manipulation of objects) are hard to learn and difficult to retain and generalise.
    • Writing is particularly laborious and keyboard skills difficult to acquire.
    • Individuals may have difficulty organising ideas and concepts.
    • Pronunciation may also be affected and people with dyspraxia may be over/under sensitive to noise, light and touch.
    • They may have poor awareness of body position and misread social cues in addition to those shared characteristics common to many SpLDs.
    • The Dyspraxia Foundation and the Developmental Adult Neuro-Diversity Association are useful sources of information.
    • Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty involving the most basic aspect of arithmetic skills.
    • The difficulty lies in the reception, comprehension, or production of quantitative and spatial information.
    • Students with dyscalculia may have difficulty in understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers and have problems learning number facts and procedures.
    • These can relate to basic concepts such as telling the time, calculating prices, handling change, estimating and measuring such things as temperature and speed.
    • The British Dyslexia Association and the Dyscalculia and Dyslexia Interest Group are useful sources of information.
    • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) exists with or without hyperactivity. In most cases, people with this disorder are often 'off task', have particular difficulty commencing and switching tasks, together with a very short attention span and high levels of distractibility.
    • They may fail to make effective use of the feedback they receive and have weak listening skills.
    • Those with hyperactivity may act impulsively and erratically, have difficulty foreseeing outcomes, fail to plan ahead and be noticeably restless and fidgety.
    • Those without the hyperactive trait tend to daydream excessively, lose track of what they are doing and fail to engage in their studies unless they are highly motivated.
    • The behaviour of people with AD(H)D can be inappropriate and unpredictable; this, together with the characteristics common to many SpLDs can present and further barrier to learning.
    • Information can be obtained from Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or the National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service.