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Specific Learning Differences

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We understand that every student's journey is unique, and some may face Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) along the way. SpLDs refer to conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and attention deficit disorders that can affect academic performance and everyday learning experiences.

Our Disability Team is here to guide you and help you access personalized assistance and accommodations tailored to your individual needs.

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Exam arrangements

Fair and accessible exam conditions can be provided where standard exams put you at a substantial disadvantage.

Reasonable adjustments

Fair accommodations can be provided to enable you to engage with your course.

Marking labels

You can be issued with electronic and paper marking labels to attach to any assessed work prior to submission.

Productivity tools

Access a wide selection of licenced and free apps and software that can aid and improve your productivity.

Library services

The Library has a range of services and facilities to support you whilst studying at Warwick.

Study skills support

Specialist study skills support and/or academic mentoring so you can succeed in your journey.

Guidance and advice

Access to individual support about funding to cover study-related costs.

Initial assessments

Screenings allow you to explore your strengths and weaknesses and learn about next steps.

Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be categorised under SpLDs but also under other disability categories.

In most cases it affects people's concentration, with particular difficulty commencing and switching tasks, together with a very short attention span and high levels of distractibility.

It may also impact on effective use of feedback and listening skills, hyperactivity, acting impulsively, having difficulty foreseeing outcomes or planning ahead and be noticeably restless and fidgety.

Students who experience difficulties relating to ADHD are advised to see their GP to discuss NHS routes and medical interventions alongside any reasonable adjustments and learning-based support offered at the University.


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.

Marked and persistent weaknesses may be identified in short-term and working memory, speed of processing, sequencing skills, auditory and /or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills.

Abilities can include good visuo-spatial skills, creative thinking and intuitive understanding; enabling technology is usually found to be very beneficial.

Dyslexia and Visual Stress

Dyslexia can be associated with visual problems that can cause visual stress which further impacts on reading ability.

Read about Irlen Syndrome and visual stress on the the Irlen Institute websiteLink opens in a new window.


Students with dyspraxia are affected by an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement, often appearing clumsy.

Gross 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. 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.


Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty involving the most basic aspect of arithmetical 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 and handling change and estimating and measuring such things as temperature and speed.

How do these SpLDs affect learning?

Specific Learning Difficulties affect the way information is learned and processed. The range of characteristics will differ from person to person. Click on the button below to learn some of the most common characteristic effects of dyslexia and other SpLDs on the learning process:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Difficulty in becoming fluent in a new skill to the point where it becomes automatic, for example reading, writing and driving a car.
  • Taking longer to complete tasks than other students.
  • Difficulties in organising work and other aspects of their lives.
  • A poor sense of passage of time, mixing up dates, times and appointments.
  • Poor short-term memory leading to difficulties in carrying out instructions or copying from the board and remembering what has just been read and/or said.
  • Difficulties retrieving words when speaking and mispronunciations caused by difficulties in discriminating sounds or motor problems.
  • Directional confusions, getting easily lost and having problems using maps or finding their way to a new place.
  • Poor motor control resulting in a range of difficulties including controlling a pen leading to untidy handwriting with many crossings out.
  • Errors when reading and spelling such as confusion or omission of sounds and/or muddling words.
  • Difficulties in retaining the visual image of words, signs, symbols and formulae.
  • Difficulties in reading text caused by visual distortions such as blurring or moving letters.
  • Difficulties in comprehension despite appearing to read fluently.
  • Difficulties in sequencing letters in spelling, or numbers and signs in maths, difficulties taking messages, remembering phone numbers and dialling them accurately.
  • Problems with sequencing such as instructions and mathematical procedures, sequencing of numbers or letters and difficulties using dictionaries, encyclopaedias and directories.
  • A short attention span and poor concentration.
  • Particular susceptibility to stress which may be associated with deadlines or examinations.
  • Noticeable inconsistency between what can be achieved on a “good” and “bad” day.

Source: DfES Specific Learning Difficulties Working Group: Draft Interim Report (July, 2004)