Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a learning disability involving math skills. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, dyscalculia, which is a lifelong condition, affects about 2% - 6.5% elementary school age children in the United States.

Some of the symptoms of dyscalculia are:

  • Normal or advanced language and other skills, often good visual memory for the printed word.
  • Poor mental math ability, often with difficulty in common use of money, such as balancing a checkbook, making change, and tipping. Often there is a fear of money and its transactions.
  • Difficulty with math processes (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication) and concepts (e.g., sequencing of numbers). There is sometimes poor retention and retrieval of concepts, or an inability to maintain a consistency in grasping math rules.
  • Poor sense of direction, easily disoriented, as well as trouble reading maps, telling time, and grappling with mechanical processes.
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts of time and direction, schedules, keeping track of time, and the sequence of past and future events.
  • Common mistakes in working with numbers include number substitutions, reversals, and omissions.
  • May have difficulty learning musical concepts, following directions in sports that demand sequencing or rules, and keeping track of scores and players during games such as cards and board games.

Dyscalculia can be quantitative, which is a deficit in counting and calculating; qualitative, which is a difficulty in the conceptualizing of math processes; and intermediate, which is the inability to work with numbers or symbols.

Dyscalculia is identified by specialists in learning disabilities who use a battery of tests.

What Strategies Can Help?

  • Individuals with dyscalculia need help in organising and processing information related to numbers and mathematical concepts. Since math is essentially a form of language using numbers instead of words as symbols, communicate frequently and clearly with a child as to what is needed to do a mathematical problem.
  • Give a child real-life exposure to how math is a part of everyday life. Have a child help with counting how many papers need to be passed out in a classroom, what ingredients are needed in baking a cake, or how to make change after purchasing something.
  • Parents and teachers should work together to determine if there are strategies that will help a child, such as using graph paper to help with alignment on a page or a calculator to check work. Teachers may also be able to suggest other textbooks, workbooks, or computer programs that may give students more opportunities to practice skills.
  • Get a tutor or a learning center to provide additional enrichment opportunities. Take full use of school-sponsored resources.
  • Praise an individual's accomplishments and pay attention to his or her strengths.

Readings:

Development of Strategies
Strategies for helping children with dyscalculia learn.

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Assessment, Learning Styles & Error Patterns
An overview of assessing dyscalculia and the different learning styles of dyscalculia children.

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Development of Strategies to help
Mathematics is a foreign language and the overlap between teachers / students / maths language is minimal.

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Dyscalculia
A slide show by Dr. Gavin Reid - University of Edinburgh

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Links:

Dyscalculia.org Website: http://www.dyscalculia.org/
Lots of information and links in dyscalculia