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Specialist Training from The Hidden Impairment National Group

Understanding Hidden Impairments

For the purpose of this group the term ‘Hidden Impairments’ is used to describe any of the following: Autistic Spectrum Conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and Speech and Language impairments. These are also known by some as developmental disorders, neuro-diverse conditions or specific learning difficulties.


“We estimate around 11% of the population have ‘Hidden Impairments.”


Individuals with Hidden Impairments typically have difficulties in the following areas:

  • May need more time to digest information
  • Information needs to be in different formats e.g. oral / letter / text
  • May need extra time and practical assistance during appointment to find their way around/ fill in forms or even take a break
  • May find it difficult to understand what is being requested of them
  • May not be able to communicate their difficulties accurately and may need prompting
  • May present anxious / restless / confrontational, in unfamiliar environments, may need time to calm down and may need to explain clearly what the process involves
  • May not remember appointments – solutions e.g. text, email, post


Below is a brief description of each of the conditions supported by the Hidden Impairments National Group:


 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a common disorder starting in childhood. Until recently it was believed that children outgrew ADHD in adolescence. However, it is now known that the disorder can continue into adulthood. The definitions of ADHD are based on high levels of impulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention which cause difficulties at home, in education, in work and social settings. People with ADHD may vary in how their symptoms present depending on the level of demand on them and characteristics of the environment they are working in (e.g. levels of noise etc).


Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASD) is a spectrum of lifelong developmental disabilities that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. ASC includes Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not Otherwise Specified. ASC affects around 1 in 100 people. The ‘spectrum’ element of the disorder means that while all people with ASCs share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways and to varying degrees. The three main areas of difficulty for all people on the autistic spectrum include difficulties with social interaction, social communication and social imagination.


Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD)/Dyspraxia

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia in the UK, is a common disorder affecting motor co-ordination in 5-6% of children of which 70% continue to experience some level of associated difficulties in adulthood. This condition is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD/Dyspraxia is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke. The range of intellectual ability is in line with the general population.



Dyscalculia is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to understand and acquire mathematical skills.  Individuals may also present with difficulties organising and planning.


Specific Language Impairments (SLI)

SLIs affect an individual’s ability to learn and use language. The condition affects receptive and expressive language.



Dyslexia is a literacy and language difficulty. It is a lifelong condition and affects approximately 10% of the population. Individuals with Dyslexia have difficulties with reading and spelling and may also have difficulties with organisation and planning.


For more details on any of the conditions listed above please email the group on