What are learning difficulties?
All human beings learn in slightly different ways, depending on their experiences and genetics. Also, most of us are good at learning some things and less good at others. People with specific learning difficulties have unusually large variations in these strengths and weaknesses.
One way of looking at learning difficulties is to describe problems with different areas of neurological processing in the brain. The tests we use at psychology4education.com sample different areas of the brain, and give us some ideas about how well each area is functioning.
Psychology is a relatively young science. Over the past 200 years a body of knowledge has been built up about how children grow and learn and what happens in the brain when they are learning. We have also studied how the different parts of the brain work together to share information and plan movements and responses.
Much of the research into learning has been driven by people with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.
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The main types of specific learning difficulties are dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, ADD, specific language impairment, autistic spectrum disorders/conditions and Asperger’s syndrome. It is possible for these learning difficulties to overlap in some way. These learning difficulties can also occur in people who are intellectually gifted.
Advances in genetics and neuroscience are constantly adding to our knowledge and these bring about changes in what we know about how to assess and teach children and adults who are experiencing difficulties.
One of the problems with our education system, and the National Curriculum, is that it does not keep pace with these changes in our knowledge of neuroscience and learning. Many children get left behind because of a lack of understanding about why they are experiencing difficulties, and how to help.
People with specific learning difficulties, or differences, have characteristic profiles of learning and these are often quite complex and interrelated, as shown by the ‘circles’ diagram.
Specific learning difficulties are complex and interrelated. They also vary in intensity from mild to severe.