Neurodiversity Dyscalculia

1. What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a neurological condition that specifically affects a person's ability to understand and work with numbers.

Many children find math challenging, but if your child is consistently having significant difficulties with math that don't improve, it could be an indication of a condition known as dyscalculia.

Not all math problems are due to dyscalculia. Other issues like dyslexia, visual or auditory processing problems, and ADHD can also make learning math difficult.

The information below is not meant to diagnose or treat. It should not take the place of consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Here's an interesting Ted Talk (11 minutes) that offers a glimpse into a woman's reality with Dyscalculia and all the quirky systems she developed to get on in a world that is largely based on numbers and calculations.

Dyscalculia manifests as challenges :

  • Basic Math Challenges, like difficulty adding or subtracting simple numbers without using fingers.

  • Struggles in understanding and using math concepts, like multiplication despite repeated explanations.

  • Problem-Solving Puzzles: Finding it challenging to follow step-by-step instructions in a math word problem.

  • Memory Roadblocks: Forgetting multiplication tables despite regular practice.

  • spatial organization of numbers,

  • and quantity estimation.

two children are playing with magnets on a refrigerator
two children are playing with magnets on a refrigerator

2. How can I recognize dyscalculia in my child?

Dyscalculia or specific learning disability with impairment in mathematics can manifest in various ways, and its signs and symptoms may differ from one person to another.

Kindergarten and First Grade - signs of dyscalculia

Number Recognition:

  • Has a hard time learning to count and continues to skip numbers, even after other kids the same age have learned to remember them in the right order.

  • Struggles with counting in sequence.

  • Faces difficulty linking a number to an object, such as understanding that the symbol "5" corresponds to collections of items like five blocks, five coins, or five pencils.

Basic Arithmetic:

  • Trouble grasping basic arithmetic concepts like addition and subtraction, like 2 + 1 = 3.

  • Difficulty understanding math signs like + and - and to use them the right way.

Pattern Recognition:

  • Struggles to recognize and create simple patterns.

  • Difficulty with basic sequencing tasks.

Spatial Awareness:

  • Challenges with spatial awareness concerning numbers.

  • Difficulty arranging objects in numerical order.

Grades 2-5 - signs of dyscalculia

Consistency in Challenges:

  • Continued difficulty with basic arithmetic skills.

  • Struggles with more complex math concepts introduced in higher grades.

Word Problems:

  • Difficulty comprehending and solving word problems.

  • Struggles with translating written problems into mathematical operations.

Memory Recall:

  • Difficulty memorizing multiplication tables and other essential math facts.

Time and Measurement:

  • Struggles with concepts involving time, measurement, and understanding units.

  • Difficulty grasping the concept of elapsed time.

Children with dyscalculia may find it challenging to:

  • Handle money-related tasks, such as calculating tips, counting bills, and estimating costs.

  • Feel frustrated easily when playing games that involve consistent scorekeeping, counting, or number strategies.

  • Judge the length of distances and predict travel time.

  • Differentiate between left and right.

  • Remember directions.

  • Read clocks and tell time accurately.

  • Remember numbers like phone numbers, or zip codes.

Beyond academic difficulties, dyscalculia can also impact the emotional well-being and behavior of children.

Feelings of frustration or anxiety may persist during math sessions, even after gaining a basic understanding of mathematical concepts.

3. What are the common myths about dyscalculia?

Myth #1: Kids with Dyslexia are ''just being Lazy''

Fact: Many kids with dyscalculia are working hard to improve their math skills. The exact cause of dyscalculia is unclear, but research indicates it's connected to differences in the brain—variations that kids can't control.

Dyscalculia often runs in families, which means genes might play a role too.

Myth #2: Dyscalculia only emerges in elementary school.

Fact: Dyscalculia signs may appear in preschool or even earlier because dyscalculia can affect basic math skills like counting.

Myth #3: Kids with Dyscalculia can't learn math.

Fact: Kids with dyscalculia can make progress in math with two key things: good instruction and practice.

Many kids benefit from multisensory instruction, which involves using sight, sound, and touch to enhance learning. Additionally, classroom accommodations and strategies like graphic organizers can be helpful.

More: Genius Math Tips: Boost Concentration and Confidence in Kids

4. How Can I Support My Child's Learning at Home?

Supporting your child's learning at home with dyscalculia involves creating an environment that caters to their specific needs. Here are some practical tips:

Multisensory Learning:

Use multisensory methods to make learning more engaging. Incorporate visual aids, hands-on activities, and verbal explanations to reinforce concepts.

Real-Life Applications:

Relate math concepts to real-life situations. For example, involve your child in activities like cooking, where they can measure ingredients, or budgeting, where they can practice handling money.

Use Manipulatives:

Employ concrete objects or manipulatives, like counting beads or cubes, to make abstract math concepts more tangible.

Break Down Tasks:

Break down math tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This helps reduce overwhelm and allows your child to focus on one aspect at a time.

Visual Aids:

Utilize visual aids, charts, or diagrams to represent mathematical concepts. Visual support can enhance understanding and retention.

Establish Routine:

Create a consistent routine for homework and study sessions. Consistency helps children with dyscalculia feel more secure and in control.

Encourage Questions:

Foster an environment where your child feels comfortable asking questions. Encourage them to seek clarification when needed.

Positive Reinforcement:

Offer positive reinforcement and praise for effort rather than focusing solely on correct answers. Celebrate progress, no matter how small.

Technology Tools:

Explore educational apps or software designed to support math skills. Interactive tools can make learning more enjoyable.

Communication with Teachers:

Maintain open communication with your child's teachers. Discuss strategies that work well at school and implement them at home.

Provide a Quiet Space:

Create a quiet and organized study space at home to minimize distractions and enhance concentration.

Patience and Understanding:

Be patient and understanding. Learning with dyscalculia can be challenging, and providing emotional support is crucial.

Remember, every child is unique, and it may take time to discover the methods that work best for your child.

5. What Resources are Available for Dyscalculia Support?

Access to resources typically requires a formal diagnosis.

Getting a diagnosis (referred to as identification in schools) can open the door to support and services in school.

Various professionals, such as school psychologists, clinical psychologists, and neuropsychologists, can assess individuals for dyslexia.

While school evaluations are free, private evaluations can be expensive. However, some options exist to obtain them for free or at a low cost. Local universities often have psychology programs with clinics where students conduct training. Teaching hospitals may offer free evaluations through research projects.

Accessing the right resources is key. Here is a list of some resources in the US and Canada.



Accessing the right resources is key!

Have a wonderful day, and keep being the amazing parents that you are! 🌟💕

DdL Mom

Genius Math Tips  Cover colorfull beads and little handsGenius Math Tips  Cover colorfull beads and little hands

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