What kinds of problems fall into the definition of “learning difficulty”?

There is no limitation on the list of learning difficulties and each child should be looked at as an individual. Learning difficulties can be short-term or long-term. Some children may have a combination of different learning difficulties.

The Education Authority as well as local schools record the following categories of learning difficulties:

  •  Moderate learning difficulty, severe learning difficulty or dyslexia (specific learning difficulty)
  • Social, emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • Physical or medical difficulties (including syndromes)
  • Pre-school children with developmental difficulties
  • Sensory impairment (hearing/vision)
  • Speech and Language difficulties
  • Complex interaction of needs

What is a learning difficulty?

The legal definition of ‘learning difficulty’ applies to a large variety of situations. The law says that a child with a learning difficulty has:

(a)  significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of other children of the same age;


(b)  a disability which makes access to education difficult unless help is provided.

Children below school age may also have a learning difficulty if they are likely to need assistance for the reasons outlined in (a) or (b) when they do go to school.