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Understanding Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia. It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But, what is dyscalculia? What does it mean? And could your child be sufferning from this disorder?

Dyscalculia is a diagnosis used to describe learning difficulties related to math concepts. It’s sometimes called “numbers dyslexia,” which is a bit misleading. Dyslexia refers to difficulty reading and writing, while dyscalculia is specifically related to mathematics.

It’s not unusual for a child to have a tough time with math homework now and then. But if they have problems with numbers or low math test scores yet does well in other subjects, they could have a math learning disability i.e. dyscalculia. It’s a brain-related condition that makes basic arithmetic hard to learn. It may run in families, but scientists haven’t found any genes related to it.

So, what exactly is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a condition that makes it hard to do math and tasks that involve math. It’s not as well known or as understood as dyslexia, but some experts believe it’s just as common. That means an estimated 5 to 10 percent of people might have dyscalculia.

It is important to note that not all children that struggle with math, has dyscalculia. No, dyscalculia goes beyond having a hard time understanding math. It’s bigger than making mistakes when you add numbers or reversing digits when you write something down. If you have dyscalculia, it’s difficult to understand the wider concepts that govern the rules of math, like whether one amount is greater than another or how algebra works.

What does Dyscalculia look like?

Before Ben goes to school, he takes a quick shower and then gets dressed and ready for school. Ben thinks he’s only been in the shower for a few minutes, but in actuality, he’s been in there for 25 minutes. Disaster! He’s gonna be late for school! This is typical for a child that suffers from dyscalculia – they are unable to keep track of time.

There are different types of Dyscalculia?

Yes, there are two main types of dyscalculia:

  1. Quantitative dyscalculia: a deficit in the skills of counting and calculating.
  2. Qualitative dyscalculia: difficulties in comprehension of instructions or the failure to master skills required for an operation.
  3. Intermediate dyscalculia: the inability to operate with symbols or numbers

What should you be looking out for?

Dyscalculia symptoms might look different depending on your child’s age and developmental stage, but the common symptoms of dyscalculia include:

  • Poor understanding of mathematical signs +, -, x, ÷, and may confuse these symbols.
  • Reverse or transpose numbers (93 for 39, or 687 for 876).
  • Poor mental arithmetic skills.
  • Struggles with math word problems.
  • Struggles with daily activities such as checking change.
  • Difficulty with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Difficulty with understanding the words “plus”, “add”, “add-together”.
  • Poor sense of direction (north, south, east, west).
  • Trouble using the calculator (difficulties in feeding in the variables).
  • Difficulty with conceptualising time.
  • Difficulty with judging the passing of time.
  • Avoids game where they have to keep score.
  • Inability to comprehend budgeting and financial planning.
  • Cannot grasp nor remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, sequences, etc.
  • Unable to estimate things (how far away an object is, how long something takes, how tall something is).
  • Inability to link a number (3) to its corresponding word (three).
  • Difficulty understanding fractions.
  • Difficulty understanding visual-spatial concepts (graphs and charts).
  • Struggles to remember phone numbers.
  • Poor time telling skills (unable to read clocks).

Could it be Dyslexia?

In our “Understanding Dyslexia” blog we explain everything you need to know about Dyscalculia. Or download our fact sheet here.

Dyscalculia is treatable, and early diagnosis can make a big difference in how the person who has it experiences mathematics learning. It may be more challenging for people with dyscalculia to learn math concepts, but it’s by no means impossible.

At Biolink Attention Training, we want nothing more than to see your child be successful, just as much as you do. If you feel that you need some help in guiding your son or daughter with their academics or address a cognitive issue that’s affecting their school life. then contact us today or find a center near you.

Lizaan Spangenberg

Biolink Attention Training Head Office