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The 3 'D's' : What is the difference between Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dyspraxia?

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I had a conversation the other day with a colleague about the word 'Dyslexia'.  It seemed odd that such a weird word would be used to describe a condition which is stereotyped because of the challenges experienced with reading and writing.
The conversation went on and we also talked about Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia too.  These are other conditions that are often experienced by people with dyslexia.

When a dyslexia test is performed these other conditions are often looked for and listed in the assessment report.

I thought that it might be useful to provide a definition for all three of those specialist 'D's '.


The British Dyslexia Association makes this definition:

'Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.

It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut off points.

Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not by themselves, markers of dyslexia.


The Dyspraxia Foundation has this definition on it's website.

Dyspraxia, a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. DCD is a lifelong condition, formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke, and occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present: these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experiences.
An individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment.
Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY.
There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life. These include social and emotional difficulties as well as problems with time management, planning and personal organisation, and these may also affect an adult’s education or employment experiences.
Many people with DCD also experience difficulties with memory, perception and processing. While DCD is often regarded as an umbrella term to cover motor coordination difficulties, dyspraxia refers to those people who have additional problems planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations. Dyspraxia can also affect articulation and speech, perception and thought.


The Dyslexia SpLD Trust has an informative page on this subject.

Research suggests that dyscalculia is a specific learning disability (SpLD) that affects a person’s ability to acquire arithmetical skills. It can manifest itself as a person’s inability to understand basic number concepts and/or number relationships, recognise symbols, and comprehend quantitative and spatial information. Many people liken the effects of dyscalculia with numbers to that of dyslexia with words, and while there are many characteristics that overlap, there is no proven link between the two.
Research suggests that, like many SpLDs, dyscalculia has varying levels of severity and can affect different areas of mathematical calculations. These difficulties can have an adverse effect on many day-to-day activities such as dealing with finances, following directions, managing a diary and keeping track of time. However, it is important to remember that many people can struggle with maths and numbers, but this does not mean that they have dyscalculia.
It is estimated that between 4% and 6% of the population suffer with dyscalculia. However, this research is based on data from children, and figures relating specifically to the adult population are non-existent. For this reason, and because of limited understanding and recognition of dyscalculia, many people go undiagnosed.
I hope that this has been a helpful insight into the different conditions.

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