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What are Specific Learning difficulties (SLDs)?

People with specific learning difficulties (SLD's) have strengths in some areas and unexpected weaknesses in others such as:
they may have difficulty learning to read, spell and write but cope with maths
they may struggle with written language but are good at oral language
they may have problems with number skills (eg times tables)
People living with SLD's are often misunderstood and mistakenly seen as lazy, lacking in ability or poorly motivated. Having an SLD does not affect a person's general intelligence.

Early recognition, assessment and management

Early recognition is important so that appropriate educational assistance may be provided. If the student’s learning difficulty is undetected or ignored during the early years of schooling, the burden of failure and frustration may contribute to secondary problems such as low self esteem, and emotional and behavioural problems. these make the situation harder for the student, their parents and teachers.

Recognising Specific Learning Difficulties

People with SLDs do not all have the same type of problems. However, most will have a number of the characteristics listed below:

  • average or above average general ability
  • poor reading, spelling, writing or mathematics, or uneven achievment across the curriculum
  • difficulty copying or writing things down
  • poor handwriting
  • take longer than other children to finish written work
  • history of speech and language difficulties
  • trouble remembering times tables
  • difficulty learning to tell the time and/or a weak concept of time
  • a poor memory for oral instructions
  • trouble following a line of print
  • easily distracted
  • fidgety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • poor organisational skills
  • family history of similar problems

How common are SLDs?

Estimates vary, but generally 3-10% of the population. Specific Learning Difficulties are also called Learning Disabilities. Some better known specific learning difficulties are;

  • Dyslexia - difficulty in reading, spelling and written language
  • Dysgraphia - difficulty with hand writing
  • Dyscalculia - difficulty with mathematics

SPELD SA is a not-for-profit organisation providing advice and services to children and adults with specific learning difficulties and those who care for, teach, and work with them.

For over 50 years we have been delivering a range of services to the community including educational training, parent workshops, educational consultations, psychological assessments, tutoring, literacy intervention programs and extensive resources through our library and bookshop.

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