Does your child seem very intelligent yet struggles with math? It may be dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability that affects math. Additionally it may affect spatial awareness, spatial reasoning, or even directionality.
Symptoms may include
- Difficulty with sequenced information. Following multi-step instructions would be an example
- Difficulty learning or naming numbers
- Difficulty with reading analog clocks
- Difficulty managing time
- Difficulty with handwriting (affects lining up numbers when doing math)
- Difficulty with names of colors
- Reversing numbers or letters
- Difficulty with the alphabet Difficulty with money. Such as knowing how much is needed or counting back change.
- Uses fingers for math (Although research shows its best not to discourage this)
- Trouble with days of week or months of year
- Difficulty counting objects
- Guesses at math answers
- Difficulty with math concepts such as confusing plus or minus
- Difficulty remembering multiplication tables
- Trouble with left and right
- Spatial difficulties such as difficulty reading maps or charts
- Diffucullty asociating language to math (word problems)
If you feel your child may have dyscalculia take our free dyscalculia screener.
Dyscalculia (like dyslexia) is a fairly broad term. The underlying causes can vary but all with the same end result. A difficulty understanding math. It is important not to confuse dyscalculia with math anxiety. Although dyscalculia may certainly cause math anxiety it is not the only cause and they are not synonymous. Math anxiety can stem from a bad experience, lack of self-esteem, or lack of confidence. It can also stem from improper praise. Whereas math anxiety stems from psychological reasons dyscalculia stems from cognitive reasons.
Dyscalculia is often reffered to as math dyslexia. This name actually fits well since dyscalculia and dyslexia can share the same root causes. those underlying causes will simply manifest themselves differently. In many cases dyscalculia and dyslexia are comorbid. It is also common for a dyscalculic to also have ADD or ADHD.
Dyscalculia is fairly common. Likely as common as dyslexia just less well known. It is estimates that approximately 5% or more of students have dyscalculia.
Math, like reading is a very high level cognitive ability. It involves the ability to understand abstract concepts and symbols. These abilities may be slower to develop in some but remember that the brain exhibits plasticity. It can grow and change at any age. So with work, most students can enhance their math abilities. The brain can remap to develop these abilities. Unfortunately many people still believe that dyscalculia is a life sentence. They continue to spread the falsehood that brains cannot change. This long held belief has been conclusively disproven yet still hangs on.
It cannot be cured with a medication. And although the statement that "dyslexia cannot be cured" is thrown around a lot, the statement itself makes little sense. What's important to remember is that brains can change. Skills can be developed. That being said, because dyscalculia is often not recognized early or at all, students tend to fall far behind their peers. This disadvantage can cause emotional difficulties. These things combined can lead to students simply giving up and never acheiving math competency.
Dyscalculia in Education
Dyscalculia is not well known in the school system. Teachers are ussually not trained to recognize it. Often a dyscalculic can be labeled as lazy. If your child has fallen far behind they may need accomodations. It's best to think of accomodations as scaffolding to help the student along while they develop the underlying skills.