What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disability in which a person experiences great difficulty with math. With this disorder, which is also known as math dyslexia, the person may have trouble understanding numbers, making mathematical calculations or learning math facts. Many scientists believe that dyscalculia is caused by certain functional abnormalities in the brain which make it difficult for the person to interpret numeric symbols or understand the quantities that each number represents. Our math tutors can tell you firsthand that this learning disability often causes great problems for students of all ages of the school system.
Signs and Symptoms of Dyscalculia
The signs of dyscalculia will often present themselves very early in a child’s educational development. A child with this disorder may have difficulty counting or organizing numbers. The child may struggle with learning math concepts or solving math problems. Fractions, operations, and sequencing may be a real challenge for them, as well as understanding math language. Because so much of our daily lives revolve around math, this learning difficulty will also appear when learning to handle everyday tasks, such as counting money, identifying months and days and telling time. In many cases, a child may develop significant math anxiety and frustration as a result of not being able to understand the subject, and this can cause further learning problems if not addressed.
If a parent or teacher suspects that a child has dyscalculia, they can have the child evaluated. There are various tests that are used to determine if a child has dyscalculia and they can be given by a qualified psychologist or educational specialist to determine the diagnosis. These tests will cover such areas as computation skills, math fluency, and quantitative reasoning. In many cases, a child with dyscalculia will often display attention span problems, so it is important to also evaluate the child for problems such ADHD or any other learning difficulties.
There is no cure for dyscalculia and it cannot be treated with conventional medications; however, recognizing the problem is the first step toward helping the child. Once parents and teachers understand that the child has this learning challenge, efforts can be made to help the child adjust so that they can learn as effectively as possible. The child’s teacher can take steps to focus learning support on the child by offering a different method of teaching. Many students with dyscalculia benefit from a multi-sensory approach to math learning, which focuses on sight, touch and sound to teach math concepts. Other students benefit from special tutors, assistive technology or special accommodations (such as being given extra time to complete tests).
To help a child with dyscalculia, there are some simple strategies that can be used in the classroom and at home, such as allowing the child to use their fingers or a piece of scrap paper for counting and calculations, using mnemonic devices or by proving pictures and graphs for word problems. These tools can help a child to visualize the numbers, which may help them to grasp math concepts better.