THERE are many common conditions associated with learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, dyslexia and Tourette syndrome.

But while most teachers will have heard of these conditions it can be difficult to understand what these terms mean for those who have been diagnosed.

At The Salvesen Mindroom Centre we describe a learning difficulty as a problem of understanding or an emotional difficulty that affects a person’s ability to learn, get along with others and follow convention.

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For pupils that may mean they struggle to manage in school because their understanding of, and response to, the world around them is different from that of other children.

Schoolwork can be affected, but personal relationships can also be very hard to maintain, which leaves children feeling lonely and isolated, even in the classroom.

Often, they can be more vulnerable to bullying and to developing mental health problems.

Sadly, children with an ASN are four times more likely to be excluded from school. A child being excluded frequently from school adds pressure on the family.

Too often we see relationships between families and schools become strained as the home-school communications break down.

Emotions can run high when a parent or carer feels that their child’s needs are not properly recognised or met.

Many teachers we engage with tell us they have had little formal training in learning difficulties. This is a gap that needs to be addressed. We hope our guide will help staff in schools to recognise pupils who may be struggling because of a learning difficulty.

When we work directly with families we focus particularly on two approaches.

Firstly, adopting practical solutions in school and at home that are easily understood by all concerned, including the child.

The guide is a starting point for making what can be quite simple adjustments, such as breaking school tasks into small portions or using a diary for communication and planning.

Other suggestions include keeping routines consistent, identifying stress triggers or giving extra time for tasks. The strategies depends on the condition and the individual child.

Secondly, we believe there must be a non-confrontational approach when there are discussions between parents, teachers and other professionals.

It is not about finding fault or rehearsing the past, but rather about moving forward in a way to find solutions that will support pupils in the classroom and improve home-school communication.

It is always about keeping the needs of the child at the centre of any discussions.

It Takes All Kinds of Minds highlights that pupils living with learning difficulties have strengths and skills that deserve to be nurtured. We believe it is essential reading.

Christine Carlin, is chief executive of the Salvesen Mindroom Centre, a charity that supports children with learning difficulties.