Dyslexia is experienced differently by each person.


 People with dyslexia have their own individual profiles of strengths and weaknesses; no two people are exactly the same and the impact of dyslexia on each individual is different. Dyslexia may overlap with related conditions such as dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (with or without hyperactivity) and dysphasia. About 50% of children with dyslexia will experience difficulties related to other conditions.

This means that many learners with dyslexia have the following characteristics that may impact on their learning, though not all dyslexic learners will have all these characteristics:

  • Difficulties in organising work and other aspects of their lives.
  • A poor sense of the passage of time, mixing up dates and times and missing appointments.
  • Directional confusions, getting lost easily and having problems using maps or finding the way to a new place. 
  • Difficulty in achieving automaticity when they have to do more than one thing at a time, as in taking notes.
  • Difficulty in carrying out instructions, copying from the board and remembering what has just been read or said, taking messages, remembering phone numbers and dialling numbers accurately.
  • Poor motor control, resulting in difficulties in controlling a pen (leading to untidy handwriting with many crossings out and making it difficult to get ideas down on paper).
  • Difficulties in recognising, or confusion between, letters or familiar words when reading or remembering the visual image of words, signs, or symbols.
  • Mispronunciations caused by difficulties in discriminating between sounds.
  • Difficulties in reading text caused by visual distortions such as blurring or moving letters.
  • Problems with sequencing such as with instructions and mathematical procedures or sequences of numbers or letters and difficulties using dictionaries, encyclopaedias and directories.



How people with dyslexia learn mathematics differently


If the difficulties that most of us associate with dyslexia are compared to the skills needed to succeed in maths, a considerable overlap is obvious. Most of the difficulties experienced by the dyslexic learner affect the skills required to succeed in maths.

Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. This can include difficulty understanding simple number concepts, a lack of intuitive grasp of numbers, and problems learning number facts and procedures. Dyslexic learners often have difficulty with the sequences, direction, calculations, following procedures and abstract concepts in mathematics.

Areas of difficulty can include:

Numbers and the number system

  • counting objects
  • processing and memorising sequences
  • grasping the underlying structure of the number system
  • using the interval-based structure of number lines
  • counting backwards and forwards
  • understanding place value
  • find fractions confusing


  • combining and partitioning numbers
  • learning number facts 'by heart'
  • remembering mental calculation strategies and methods
  • counting difficulties leading to subtraction errors
  • short term memory overburdened with mental arithmetic
  • problems recording calculations on paper
  • problems using calculators

Solving problems

  • reading and understanding word problems (unusual words and mathematical language)
  • identifying clues to recognise. develop and predict patterns to help solve problems
  • understanding and retaining the meaning of abstract mathematical vocabulary
  • deciding which operations to use ( + - x / ) to solve a problem
  • finding difference and division without reverting to formal operations
  • unsettled by the insecurity of estimation

Measures, shape and space

  • sequencing of time
  • left / right confusion with problems in position, direction and movement
  • vocabulary relating to measures, shape, space
  • reading graphs
  • drawing shapes

Handling data

  • reading scales and two-way tables
  • understanding the different types of averages (mode, median, mean, range)

Excerpted from scotens.org dyslexia and maths


DCD and learning differently


Dyspraxia is also known as Developmental Coordination

Dyspraxia is a motor learning difficulty that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body (NHS Direct, 2008).

It is considered that between 5% - 10% of the population are affected by dyspraxia with boys four times more likely to be affected than girls. 

DCD (Dyspraxia) may present as any number of the following difficulties: 

  • Postural control
  • Fine motor skills
  • Balance
  • Co-ordination
  • Dressing and eating skills
  • Following instructions
  • Attention and learning
  • Organisation and short term memory
  • Speaking and listening
  • Holding pens/pencils and handwriting
  • Time management
  • Social skills and friendships
  • Behavioural problems
  • Low self-esteem




Dysgraphia affects handwriting ability and fine motor skills


Dysgraphia can cause illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing between words, poor spatial planning on paper, poor spelling and difficulty composing writing while thinking and writing at the same time.

  • mixed print and cursive writing
  • irregular size and shape of letters
  • mixed upper and lower case letters in words
  • inconsistent shape and slant of letters
  • wrist and body position
  • difficulty pre-visualising letter formation
  • copy or writing is slow and laboured
  • complains of cramping in hand while writing
  • pauses and shakes hand when writing
  • has great difficulty writing and thinking at the same time (taking notes, creative writing)



Attention Deficit Disorder / ADD


ADD is a term used to describe inattention and ADHD describes symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity. Different symptoms may appear in different settings, depending on the demands the situation may pose for the child’s self-control. A child who “can’t sit still” or is otherwise disruptive will be noticeable in school, but the inattentive daydreamer may be overlooked.  The impulsive child who acts before thinking may be considered just a “discipline problem,” while the child who is passive or sluggish may be viewed as merely unmotivated. Yet both may have different types of ADHD and because they are different across setting, this makes it difficult to diagnose.

ADHD is considered one of the most common developmental disorders affecting 3-5% of school age population.

People who have ADD generally show signs of inattention:

  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless errors in schoolwork, work or other activities
  • Keeping attention on tasks or play
  • Doesn't appear to listen when being told something
  • Neither follows through on instructions nor completes chores, schoolwork, or jobs (not due to failure to understand or a deliberate attempt to disobey)
  • Organising activities and tasks
  • Dislikes or avoids tasks that involve sustained mental effort (homework, schoolwork)
  • Loses materials needed for activities (assignments, books, pencils, tools, toys)
  • Easily distracted by irrelevant information
  • Forgetful

Impulsiveness & Hyperactivity

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat when sitting still is expected.
  • Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  • Often excessively runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  • Often has trouble playing or doing leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor". 
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  • Often has trouble waiting one's turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games). 




Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)


Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) is an umbrella term for learning difficulties. It is used to refer to three common overlapping conditions: dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Overlapping disorders are ones that have some symptoms in common, while 'co-existing' or 'co-morbidity' is the term used when the child has more than one condition.


“Many, if not most, children with a developmental problem qualify for more than one diagnostic label.”
— Dr Amanda Kirby & Professor Bonnie J Kaplan

Dyslexia and Overlapping Conditions %

Dr Alex Richardson & Dr Angela Fawcett