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Frequently asked questions about Specific Learning Difficulties

What are specific learning difficulties?


Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), is an umbrella term used to describe a variety difficulties associated with learning. SpLDs include dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder/dyspraxia, dyscalculia and ADD/ADHD. SpLDs affect the way information is learned and processed. They are neurological in origin, are often hereditary and are not related to an individual’s level of intelligence. SpLDs can have a significant impact on the acquisition of literacy skills and consequently on education and learning.

SpLDs should be distinguished from general learning difficulties. SpLDs involve disorders where there is a deficit in one or a small number of areas, although the individual has typical functioning in other areas. General learning difficulties involve impairments in most, if not all, cognitive functions.

How long does an assessment take?

This may vary, although a diagnostic assessment would typically last around three to four hours for an adult and teenagers and around two and a half hours for children.  Assessments cover underlying ability, cognitive processing and attainments in literacy and, if necessary, numeracy; further diagnostic assessments are carried out if appropriate. All assessments are carried out by our Specialist Teacher Assessors, all of whom are approved by the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC) and have extensive experience of assessing people of all ages for specific learning difficulties.The assessor will happily discuss the assessment when it is completed, although they will not be ready to offer any diagnostic at that stage. 

What happens after an assessment?

The diagnostic assessment will be followed by a comprehensive written report. This will provide evidence of the cognitive and attainment profile of the person being assessed and whether the individual has been confirmed as having a specific learning difficulty. The assessment will lead to an extensive understanding of an individual’s needs, not only for the person or child with the difficulties, but also for the people around them, including parents and teachers. The completed report will be sent to the designated recipient, usually by email, normally within two weeks of the assessment.  If after receiving the report you would like to speak to the assessor to discuss the findings, we can arrange a telephone consultation (there will be no additional charge for this). Enable SpLD Assessment quality assures its diagnostic assessment reports in line, with guidelines set by the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC). 

Students applying for university need to have an assessment report carried out after their 16th birthday, with recommendations for special considerations in tests and exams. This diagnostic assessment report can be used to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), a fund designed to pay for support to enable students in higher education to achieve their true potential and not be disadvantaged by their specific learning difficulty.

Where would the assessment take place?

The assessor would typically carry out the assessment in the home of the person or child being assessed. A quiet room with a table and chairs would be needed. In some circumstances an alternative location could be negotiated. 

Is an Enable SpLD Assessment report suitable for application for the Disabled Students' Allowance?

Yes, if the assessment identifies a specific learning difficulty. However, it should be noted that a diagnosis is always supported by evidence and not all assessments generate enough evidence to support a clear diagnosis. Parents and education institutions should be aware that we do not take on assessments where a parent or an institution requests a specific diagnostic outcome prior to assessment.

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