girl reaching for library book

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) are neurological conditions. They can cause inefficiencies in the areas of processing speed, auditory short term/working memory and visual/auditory perception. As a result there can be impacts on life skills and academic skills. However, students can compensate for problems by being taught strategies; by using other areas of strength or by using technology.

Dyslexia is an SpLD that causes problems with phonological awareness, which is the recognition and manipulation of sound patterns. This in turn affects literacy accuracy and speed.


A lot of people use SpLD interchangeably with dyslexia (a difficulty with words), but dyslexia is only one of a larger group of difficulties that include:

  • dyscalculia: a difficulty with mathematical calculations
  • dyspraxia (DCD): a difficulty with organising and executing motor tasks or thoughts
  • AD(H)D as an SpLD. A difficulty that affects concentration, attention, memory, impulsivity and other behaviours. It can occur with or without hyperactivity. This is related to but differs from AD(H)D as a medical condition.

There is a large variation of strengths and weaknesses in the SpLD profile. Some individuals will have learnt to cope better than others, therefore it is difficult to apply generalisations.

What should you do if you already know you have an SpLD?

Book an appointment to meet with a DAS Advisor and provide a copy of your evidence.

What should you do if you think you have an SpLD?

Book an appointment to meet with an DAS Advisor.  You can also read about how Imperial College screen SpLDs.  

Scientists with Dyslexia/SpLD

Support and advice outside of the College