Neurodiversity refers to the range of differences in the way the brain works.

There are many reasons why students may find maths difficult. They may have a specific learning difficulty and the image above shows these.

Dyslexia – is a common learning difficulty that causes problems with reading, writing, and spelling. Intelligence is not affected. It is estimated that one person in every ten people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a lifelong problem that can present challenges daily but with the right support barriers can be overcome.

Dyscalculia – is a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with maths. It occurs across all ages and abilities.

Dyspraxia (DCD) – is a difficulty with co-ordination and movement. Dyspraxia does not affect your intelligence. It affects tasks requiring balance and can also affect your fine motor skills such as writing or using small objects.

Autism (ASD) – is a difficulty with social interaction. Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses. Autistic people may have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Some autistic people are unable to speak or have limited speech while other autistic people have exceptionally good language skills but struggle to understand sarcasm or tone of voice. Autistic people may also repeat movements such as hand flapping, rocking or the repetitive use of an object such as twirling a pen or opening and closing a door. Autistic people may experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures, or pain. Many autistic people have intense and highly focused interests, often from an early age. Being highly focused helps many autistic people do well academically and in the workplace.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – is a difficulty with staying focussed for extended periods of time. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.

If students are struggling with maths, they should talk with the learner services of their school or college and ask to take a screening test to determine if they have any specific barriers to learning. Once this has been done strategies can be put in place to alleviate these.