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, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and ADHD.


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.


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.

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!

Outside the Square

What’s it like to discover that you have ADHD as an adult? Simon Herbst shares his journey.

Doing a PHD with Dyslexia

Know how your brain functions, and what makes it click. That’s the advice of Dr Kyle Whitfield who once floundered with dyslexia at school.

Deciphering Me

For Summer Riley, a diagnostic assessment lifted a huge emotional toll and enables access to extra support at university.

I’ve Been There

As a child, Joan Rusden knew she wanted to be a SPELD teacher, supporting dyslexic learners like herself.