Because there is no specific indicator of dyscalculia an official diagnosis is a process of ruling out other possibilities. This would commonly be done by a team that would include educators, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, input from the parent, and an evaluator to process all of the information into a full report with specific difficulties. It is a long and expensive process.
Parents should carefully evaluate whether an official diagnosis will be beneficial.
Because the term dyscalculia is no longer the official term used by the DSM-5 the diagnoses would be "Specific Learning Disability"
What To Rule Out?
Because there are so many possible reasons for difficulty in math each would have to be ruled out individually prior to an official diagnosis of dyscalculia. These would include but not be limited to:
Math anxiety is a very common cause of poor math performance. Math anxiety can be caused by teachers or parents. In most cases inadvertently. Even praising a child for "being good at math" can lead to math anxiety. This is because the student them has to live up to that identification. This can cause fear of failure and that then leads to anxiety. To prevent this parents can learn how to praise in effective ways. This is covered in our confidence building techniques.
It should be determined that the student has actually recieved adequate instruction. Was there an illness or other reason for instruction to be missed? Was the instruction given similar to what other students wer given that do not have difficulties?
Is the student able to focus for adequate periods of time? ADHD and ADD are often comorbid with dyscalculia. They can also be the singular cause for math difficulty. While ADHD is ussually quite obvious as a possibilty ADD is not. ADD often goes undetected. The hyperactivit component of ADHD makes it stand out. There are no obvious indicators of ADD. The student simply has difficulty paying attention to subjects he or she is not interested in.
Poverty and Problems at Home
Poverty can rob students of the opportunity to excel at academics. Conditions at home, poor nutrition, depression, and a general dismal outlook make math instruction seem pointless. Even if a student wants to try hard they may still have too many distractions to excel.