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Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia

Dyslexia is a specific learning problem that arises from a difficulty in processing language. Dyslexia can affect any level of intellect. You often display high verbal intelligence and articulation. You may excel in using a computer, 3D design, architecture and art. Although the symptoms change with age and experience, it does not go away.

How does Dyslexia affect my learning?

Auditory processing:

  • You may have difficulty telling the difference between sounds, leading to spelling difficulties.

Visual processing:

  • The print may appear to wobble, jump, blur, float out of sequence or drop off the page.
  • You may find it hard to track text across the page when reading.
  • You may be able to recognise words as individual letters but not be able to place them in the correct order.

Motor processing:

  • You may have difficulty with handwriting and pronouncing longer words.

Handwriting and presentation:

  • Your skills may be affected due to poor motor control and getting confused over left and right orientation. This means that your notes are not always accurate.

Producing written work:

  • There may be a discrepancy between your understanding, ideas and oral ability, and the standard of written work.


  • Listening and writing at the same time can be difficult.

Short Term Memory:

  • You may have problems remembering instructions, messages, numbers, facts. Poor sequential memory can affect copying tasks.
  • You will often not remember clusters of words and copy one word at a time.


  • You may have problems planning and organising, putting things in sequence, missing out steps.

Phonological difficulties:

  • You may misread or mishear words. An example of this is ” Take out chips, pop up… instead of take out pips, chop up”.

Directional and spatial difficulties:

  • This can mean that you miss out words or whole lines when reading.
  • This affects the ability to ‘skim and scan’.


  • You have difficulty judging how long things take as well as difficulty remembering dates and appointments.

Copying from the board or overhead projector:

  • It can be difficult finding the correct place on the board, retaining a cluster of words, remembering them in the correct sequence and writing them correctly.

New Words:

  • When coming across a new word, or a word that you are unsure of, you will often copy one letter at a time.
  • You may lose your place when you are copying letters each time you look away.

Further guidance, information and support on Dyslexia go to: British Dyslexia Association or Dyslexia Action.

Strategies to support learning for those with Dyslexia

Use differentiated resources and a variety of learning styles:

Use a variety of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic resources and activities. For example, making tapes, making notes or highlighting in a visual and colourful form, studying photographs/images/video, drama.


  • You benefit from having the following essential ‘kit’: a highlighter to highlight key points; post-it notes to mark pages; a small hole-puncher for handouts.
  • You should date everything for easier retrieval.
  • A laptop, word processing can overcome handwriting and presentation difficulties.


  • Instructions should be sequenced clearly.
  • Make sure that you are listening properly when instructions are given rather than reading or copying.
  • Write down deadline reminders. Highlight key points.


  • Let your tutor know if you would prefer material on pastel-coloured rather than white paper.

Use of language:

  • Use a dictionary to look up words that you do not understand.
  • Write all the words down and their meaning in a glossary so that you can look at it rather than having to keep looking them up. Have this somewhere to hand – in a diary, class folder or mobile phone. If you are using your glossary in your phone make sure your tutor knows.

Summarise and check:

  • Ask questions to ensure that you have fully understood the content of the session.


  • You may be entitled to Access Arrangements, for more information on the type of support available.


Dyspraxia is a common disorder that affects your fine and/or gross motor coordination that may also affect their speech. Dyspraxia may affect your reading, writing, coordination, balance and self-care.  It is a lifelong condition and occurs across the full range of intellectual abilities. How dyspraxia affects a person may change over time, will affect everyone differently and may also change depending on the environment. Issues affecting coordination may affect participation in education, life and work.

How does Dyspraxia affect my learning?

Sequencing and planning:

  • You may find it challenging to planning the sequence of actions required to carry out a task.

Retrieval of information:

  • You may have difficulty retrieving knowledge and information that has been learnt and is known.


  • Often your rate of achievement is lower than your level of intelligence.

Gross motor skills:

  • There could be difficulties with balance and gross motor skills. These skills do not become automatic.
  • You may have poor body and spatial awareness. These can seriously affect learning in subjects such as physical education and dance.

Fine motor skills:

  • Severe difficulty will be noted in drawing, writing and similar tasks such as shading in or labelling diagrams.
  • You may have difficulty using scissors correctly or pressing the keys on a small calculator. Painting with a fine brush is likely to take more concentrated effort than for others.


  • Handwriting quality deteriorates rapidly during long handwriting tasks. Gripping a pen can often make your wrist ache so taking notes by hand can take longer than others, and the results are usually difficult to read.
  • You have difficulty fitting words into the space available and may cram in words at the end of a line. In fact, you may not keep to the line at all, and letters and numbers may be poorly and unevenly formed.
  • Problems with motor memory may cause the substitution of words that are formed with similar movements (for example, r/b/h or d/g/a). Making neat notes is difficult and sometimes impossible.


  • Spelling can be affected as there are often problems with reading/remembering shapes or the sequence of letters, also with reading your own writing.


  • Reading may be affected by poor motor skills, making it difficult to turn the pages of a book.
  • You may crumple page edges or turn two or three pages at a time by mistake. However, some with dyspraxia are good at reading and spelling.


  • Dyspraxia can affect verbal skills as you have to search for the right word or sequence of words. This leads to difficulties when reading aloud.

Personal organisation:

  • Personal organisation may be poor. You may be commonly late as you have forgotten your timetable or are looking at the wrong day or time of day.
  • You may have a tendency to borrow books and materials from peers and may mislay them or forget to return them.
  • You may experience problems in starting tasks and/or dealing with extended pieces of work.

Further guidance, information and support on Dyspraxia, go to: Dyspraxia Foundation or Young Minds.

Strategies to support learning for those with dyspraxia

In the classroom:

  • Make sure that you are listening properly when instructions are given rather than reading or copying.


  • Maintain a quiet learning environment where distractions are minimised and make sure that the you take regular breaks as appropriate.

Use differentiated resource:

  • Handwritten notes will probably be difficult to read, so where possible use a word processor.
  • Producing a list of key vocabulary will be helpful to support spelling.


  • To make it easier to find your way around texts, use post-it notes for marking each chapter or section, so that pages can be found more easily.
  • Highlight key points.

Health and safety:

  • Potential problems with using equipment or holding and pouring make it essential that you inform a tutor if you have any difficulties when using and handling equipment.
  • On field trips you are more likely to get lost. Ensure you have your mobile phone and details of where to go if you get separated from the group.


  • Break large tasks into smaller chunks, for example taking a longer essay and working through each point in the brief.
  • Make colourful and visually-interesting notes, as this can aid memory and concentration.
  • Explain what you have understood to make sure that you have  fully understood the entire instruction

Personal organisation:

  • Place a copy of your timetable in the front of your file so it easy to locate to refer to it.*
  • Use different coloured files to organise work.
  • Put a date on work to aid with organisation.


  • You may be entitled to exam concessions to find out information in the type of support available.


Dysgraphia is a condition causing trouble with written work. Often your handwriting will be poorly formed, difficult to read, a mixture of cursive and block letters and have letters of varying sizes. However, it is more than ‘messy’ handwriting. Although the person can write,  the process of writing is more difficult or impossible. Handwriting involves ‘fine motor skills’ which are used along with the brains ability to process information; a person with dysgraphia will need to concentrate more and use your working memory to complete written tasks. This can be made worse with pressure by limiting the time to complete a task.


Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability in Maths. It affects your understanding of number related concepts, using symbols or functions. The challenges can affect you at college but also create difficulties in your daily life.

Last updated: 16th August 2023

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