Many adults still struggle with dyslexia/specific learning disabilities and come to us for help. Rest assured, it’s never too late to turn your life around! We can expertly assess you and create an individualised programme targeting your learning and life needs.

Aidan Milner was labelled the lazy kid who just needed to try harder and stop misbehaving. He went on to graduate with a Master of Science and now works as a geologist.

I suspect I have a specific learning disability such as dyslexia

If you’re concerned that you may have a learning difficulty, take a look at this checklist of some typical indicators. Keep in mind that individuals vary greatly and no two people will have the same challenges.

I want to find out more about specific learning difficulties

Dyslexia is the most commonly known specific learning disability (SLD) but there are others that can have a dramatic impact on a person’s capacity to learn. SPELD NZ also works with people struggling with dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and ADHD.

I know I have an SLD. What are the next steps?

A SPELD NZ assessment is an essential first step in really understanding your learning needs. It can be a turning point in your life.

How do I arrange SPELD NZ tuition?

If your assessment report indicates a need for our one-on-one tuition, we can put you in touch with a SPELD NZ Teacher. The teacher will create a highly individualised learning plan, based on the findings of the assessment.

I’m a tertiary student who needs help

Tertiary students often come to SPELD NZ for support. Here’s an example of how an assessment can help. We also recommend these excellent tips and techniques for the tertiary learner.  Read about how tertiary providers can provide support in many ways.

I want to understand myself better

We have a wealth of resources you are welcome to borrow. You can also follow our Facebook page for support and advice.

Frequently asked questions by adults

What does a SPELD NZ assessment diagnose?

We use the internationally recognised Woodcock-Johnson assessment. This can take up to four hours and is often split into two sessions. It identifies intellectual and educational strengths and weaknesses, and evaluates the skills involved in effective learning, such as:

  • Language and auditory skills
  • Visual skills and spatial awareness
  • Speed of processing
  • Short and long term memory
  • Reading, spelling and mathematics
  • Handwriting
  • Co-ordination and organisation
  • Attention, concentration and academic fluency

The report includes some technical language. However a clear summary is included and your SPELD NZ Assessor will be happy to answer any questions.

How do I get a SPELD NZ Teacher and what does tuition involve?

If the Assessor’s report recommends one-to-one tuition, the next step is to contact us. We have a national network of SPELD NZ Teachers and will aim to refer you to one who is based as close as possible to where you live. Usually lessons are one hour, once a week, during school terms. Teachers normally work from their homes but can sometimes they can work within schools. We have some teachers who can also work online.

All our teachers are qualified classroom teachers who’ve passed our 600-hour, NZQA-approved training course. Based on the assessment findings, they develop an individualised one-on-one teaching programme which uses a student’s strengths to build up their weaknesses. For students who struggle with literacy, our teachers use evidence-based programmes emphasising phonemic and phonological awareness. These reflect the Science of Reading.

What does it all cost?

Membership Fees

As a charitable organisation, we ask all members to pay an annual membership fee, which helps to cover our operating expenses. Our membership fees (whether individual or for the entire family) are:

With community services card in name of parent /caregiver

  • $75 for first year
  • $75 each following year to renew

Without community services card

  • $120 for the first year
  • $120 each following year to renew

NB: All membership fees include GST.

Benefits of membership include a discounted rate for our SPELD NZ assessments and tuition, our magazine several times a year, free use of our library resources, discounted rates for our introductory courses and the ability to apply for financial support for those with proof of low income.

Please note we receive no government funding. We rely on memberships, donations and fundraising to maintain our services to the community.


Our members pay teachers and assessors directly for their services.  The assessment includes time, materials, the analysis of the result and the full report. Please check our current Information Pack to see their range in fees.  You are also welcome to call us to find out more specific information about the availability and costs for assessment and tuition in your region: 0800 773 536

Can I get financial assistance to help cover the cost of assessment and tuition?

SPELD NZ believes nobody should miss out on our support because they can’t afford it.  We continually fundraise to help subsidise our services for those in financial hardship.

We may be able to provide financial assistance for assessments and tuition if you have a current Community Services Card or can provide evidence of low income or hardship. Please call us to find out whether you’re eligible for financial assistance on 0800 773 536.

Why does SPELD NZ assessment and tuition work so well?

Learning issues are often a sign that a brain works differently. SPELD NZ aspires to very high professional standards and we use proven, research-based methods to greatly enhance learning outcomes for those with dyslexia.

The University of Auckland’s Associate Professor of Psychology, Karen Waldie, noted that SPELD NZ intervention resulted in “vast improvements in thinking ability, cognitive fluency and processing speed”.

What’s more, the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies published the research findings, noting the improvements were “testament to the ability of the brain to be modified, presumably via strengthened neural connectivity.”

What age should you be to have an assessment?

The Woodcock-Johnson assessment is used to test for dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities in pre-schoolers to those in their 90s.

How long does the assessment take?

The time taken for an assessment depends on the capabilities of the person being assessed, (e.g. their age, processing speed and attention span) and the purpose of the testing. The assessment may be split into two sessions: your assessor will discuss this with you.

The report should be available within three weeks of the assessment date. The report will be sent to the person who has paid for the assessment, unless other arrangements are made.

SPELD NZ assessments are also valid for tertiary students seeking extra support and special exam conditions due to their specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

Personal Stories

Find out how SPELD NZ has helped both children and adults overcome their struggles with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities.

What Dyslexia Taught Me

Christchurch IT product innovator Christian Sax describes his lifelong struggles with dyslexia and what he’s learned along the way.

You Rescued Me

Dyslexic Professor Emeritus David Mellor looks back on the “phenomenal impact” of his tutor 70 years ago.

Family the Key to Success

Bayley Garnham’s struggles all made sense when he was diagnosed with dyspraxia and dysgraphia at the age of 12. Family support played a crucial role in his success.

Aidan at work

Dyslexia in the Workplace

New employee, Aidan Milner, recommends total honesty and not shying away from support to level the playing field.