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Specific Learning Difficulties: Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia

Posted on May 24, 2019 by Ann

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What are Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD)?

Specific Learning Difficulties or Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) are a range of conditions, often with overlapping symptoms. Some difficulties children with SpLD include difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, recalling and organising information.

SpLD are lifelong conditions, but they can be managed with effective strategies.

This article provides an overview of 4 common SpLD:

  1. dyslexia,
  2. dysplaxia,
  3. dyscalculia, and
  4. dysgraphia.

It is important to understand that learning disabilities are not caused by disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g cultural, environmental, or economic disadvantages). They are also not created by poor vision, poor hearing, poor teaching approaches, or a lack of education.

Individuals with learning disabilities are not the same as individuals who have difficulties because they are on the autism spectrum, have intellectual disabilities, or have emotional or mental health issues.

Many individuals with learning disabilities have very good thinking and reasoning abilities. With appropriate support, these children can overcome their challenges.

Learning disabilities expert Dr. Sheldon Horowitz has provided a good introduction to learning disabilities in the video below.


Individuals with dyslexia often display difficulties with recognising letters,  phonology (the sounds of language), memory and information processing.

Here is an explanation in detail, including possible strategies.

Here is an animated video explaining what it is like being dyslexic.


Dyspraxia, or developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD) is  an impairment in the development of motor coordination. It can make it difficult for people to carry out daily activities. Adult with dyspraxia often have associated difficulties with the processing of language and thoughts.

Here is an explanation in detail, including possible strategies.

See also our post on dyspraxia:

Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)

Here is an account from Abi Hocking who was diagnosed with dyspraxia.


Dyscalculia refers to difficulty in understanding the basic aspects of numbers and arithmetic.

Here is an explanation in detail, including possible strategies.

Here is a video from Hyper Brigade who was diagnosed with dyscalculia.

In addition, here is a parent’s guide.


Dysgraphics have poor handwriting and sometimes spelling. The difference between dysgraphia and dyspraxia is that people with dysgraphia do not have primary developmental motor disorder, even though they may have difficulty with fine motor skills.

Here is an explanation in detail. including possible strategies.

Here is a video by geekboy, a boy with dysgraphia and how he overcame his challenges.

What should I do if I think my child has a learning disability?

It is best not to jump to conclusions without a professional assessment.

You can first discuss your child’s symptoms and assessment options with your child’s preschool or school teachers. Depending on the difficulties displayed, the school may be able to make appropriate suggestions.

Assessment can be conducted by:

  1. MOE Schools,
  2. KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital,
  3. SpLD Assessment Services, Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS); and
  4. other private psychologists.

For dyslexia, you may want to first take the free screening by DAS for for school children. The screening helps to identify those who might need to be professionally assessed for dyslexia. Check the website for upcoming mass screenings.

What next?

Any assessment by a qualified professional should include, where necessary, clear recommendations for intervention and support. The recommendations would help you to identify the type of support and education your child may require in the longer term, and also provide recommendations that you, and your child’s teacher, can implement at home and at school.

In mainstream schools, students with special educational needs do have access to a range of support. These include specialised support programmes and services, specialised personnel such as teachers trained in special needs, allied educators (learning and behavioural support) and MOE psychologists who provide consultation and advice.

Support programmes in mainstream schools for dyslexia

Among children in mainstream schools, dyslexia is the most common of the four learning disabilities in this article. Therefore, there are support programmes in place to help the students cope with the demands of the mainstream curriculum.

Learning Support Programme (LSP)

LSP is an early intervention programme for students who begin school without appropriate early literacy skills

At Primary 1 and 2, the LSP is conducted in class sizes of fewer than 10, five times a week.

Children who continue to face difficulties after attending LSP will be screened for dyslexia.

School-based Dyslexia Remediation (SDR)

SDR is an after-school programme for children who have been identified as dyslexic.

At Primary 3 and 4, SDR is a conducted in class sizes of four to six, four times a week, by specially trained teachers.

Specialised Remediation

Students who require support for dyslexia after Primary 4 may enrol for specialised remediation at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. MOE subsidises this programme and also provides further financial assistance to those who need it. Some students may also want to opt for Foundation subjects as these classes are typically smaller in size.

Secondary school

Support continues at the secondary level, where teachers are trained to provide differentiated instruction to meet students’ needs.


Read more

Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)

Preparing Your Child with Special Needs for Mainstream


All content found on the All In website, has been created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.