Learning difficulties

A person with a learning difficulty may be described as having specific problems processing certain forms of information. 

Unlike a learning disability, a learning difficulty does not affect general intelligence (IQ).  An individual may often have more than one specific learning difficulty (for example, dyslexia and dyspraxia are often encountered together), and other conditions may also be experienced alongside each other.

The difference between a learning difficulty and learning disability

Distinguishing between learning difficulties and learning disabilities is quite a complex issue.

As described above, a learning difficulty does not affect general intelligence, whereas a learning disability is linked to an overall cognitive impairment. 

Some examples of specific learning difficulties are:

  • dyspraxia
  • dyslexia
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How many people are affected?

There is no definitive record of how many people in the UK have learning difficulties. This is largely because most learning difficulties are ‘hidden’ disabilities, meaning that the condition is not immediately obvious to others, or even to the person themselves.
Below are some of the estimated numbers of people affected by some of the most common learning difficulties:

Getting help

Our work at the Foundation focuses primarily on people with learning disabilities as opposed to people with specific learning difficulties.

For more information about learning difficulties we recommend you contact an organisation which specialises in those difficulties.