Specific learning disabilities [SLD] is a general term used to describe a range of unexpected learning difficulties that are significantly interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or other activities of daily life.

People with SLD may struggle with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, hand-writing, written language, spelling and/or maths.

Specific learning disabilities are NOT caused by:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Deficit in the sense organs
  • Environmental and emotional deprivation
  • Other disabilities

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 children and adults struggling with dysgraphia and dyscalculia plus those with co-occurring difficulties such as dyspraxia, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Simply put, dyslexia is a specific learning disability that makes it far harder to learn to read, write or do number work. It is a processing difficulty that makes achieving success in literacy and numeracy a real challenge.


Developmental dyspraxia primarily affects motor function, particularly the gaining of new skills and the carrying out of those already learned. Although not considered a specific learning disability, dyspraxia sometimes co occurs in those with SLD.


Chances are, you’ve not heard much about dysgraphia. If your child has trouble expressing his/herself in writing, despite plenty of practice and corrective feedback, you may want to.


It’s been described as the number one cause of maths weakness that you’ve never heard of. Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability that affects around 6 percent of the population.


An estimated one in 20 New Zealanders have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, yet it’s poorly understood and frequently remains undiagnosed, causing distress in family, school, work and social situations.  ADHD sometimes co occurs in those with a specific learning disability.

Personal Stories

Many of our clients have overcome years of struggle with reading and writing, and in the process, have discovered a love of learning!

What Dyslexia Taught Me

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

Back to the Future

Emma Pollard became a SPELD NZ Teacher so she could support her dyslexic daughter and others like her.

Dancing with Dyscalculia

Diagnosed with severe dyscalculia as a child, Isabelle went on to become a makeup artist and support others who struggle with numbers.

You Rescued Me

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