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Tampere University Student's Handbook

Difficulties in learning

Difficulties in learning

There is a variety of learning difficulties that university students may be living with. One of the most common is dyslexia, which involves difficulties with reading and writing. Students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or Asperger syndrome may also experience difficulties with learning. 

These problems often go unnoticed as people may find it hard to believe that a student admitted to a university could have a learning difficulty. Still, a number of university students are so called diverse learners who may have to work harder and need support or individual study arrangements to make effective progress towards their degree. In the context of learning, the term accessibility refers to an environment that affords everyone an equal opportunity to study regardless of a learning difficulty or a physical disability. Read more about accessibility and individual study arrangements at Tampere University.



Dyslexia is a fairly common learning disorder that involves difficulties with reading and writing. Depending on the definition, 3–10% of people are estimated to be living with dyslexia. Dyslexia often runs in families. It is not related to intelligence or talent. One of the diagnostic criteria is that the person’s linguistic performance is poorer than could be assumed based on his or her overall performance and educational ability.

Dyslexia may manifest itself in several ways. It often takes longer for children with dyslexia to learn to read and write. As adults, they may be slow readers or have difficulties with reading comprehension. Reading may be difficult because letters seem to swap in and out of place. People with dyslexia may also have trouble with their working memory. Writing may be slow. A dyslexic person may have a tendency to produce either overly concise texts or write long, rambling sentences and get diverted from the main points. Spelling mistakes are common. Dyslexia may also manifest itself in concentration problems, forgetfulness and mixing right and left, for example.

Dyslexia may complicate and slow down studies but does not prevent them. For students with learning difficulties, it is particularly important to improve their study skills and find the working methods that suit them in order to overcome the challenges. 


Accommodations for students with dyslexia 

Students who have a diagnosed learning difficulty or a disability that affects their ability to demonstrate and undertake learning have the option to request special arrangements. Students requesting special arrangements will be expected to present a certificate issued by a doctor or other expert. Read more about accessibility and special arrangements at Tampere University.



ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) may take a variety of forms. The main ADHD symptom is the inability to focus but hyperactivity and impulsiveness are common as well. With adults, the term ADD (attention deficit disorder) is often used since hyperactivity is less common among adults living with the condition.

Not all concentration problems mean that the person has ADHD. It is normal that our ability to sustain attention and concentration varies from time to time. A diagnosed attention deficit means that a person has persistent problems that clearly interfere with his or her daily functioning. ADHD is a chronic condition that cannot be cured with medication. Childhood hyperactivity may decrease over time, but concentration problems often persist into adulthood. In everyday life, ADHD manifests as forgetfulness, misplaced possessions, problems with taking initiative, disorganisation and impatience.

ADHD may hinder studies but does not prevent them. It is important that students with ADHD are aware of their strengths and weaknesses and consciously develop learning strategies that work best for them. Visit the Study skills page in the Student’s guide to find more information and tips for assessing and developing your learning habits.

For more information on ADHD, please go to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) web page on ADHD. 


Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological disorder that may affect daily functioning and interfere with academic progress. People living with the condition often have difficulties with time management and social interaction. However, they may have an excellent ability to concentrate on a narrow area of interest, which is helpful for their studies and professional growth.

For more information on Autism spectrum disorder, please go to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) web page on Austism spectrum disorder 

If you want to discuss problems or challenges that are affecting your ability to study, please contact our study psychologist.

You can find information about assessing and developing your study skills from Study skills section of Student’s handbook

Published: 27.2.2019
Updated: 19.4.2024