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Dyscalculia
When difficulties with maths is something more.
Lots of kids struggle with maths and for many, it is far from their favourite subject. But if your child’s math troubles are serious and don’t seem to get better, they may be a sign of something called dyscalculia. While not all difficulties with maths are caused by dyscalculia, disorders like dyslexia, visual or auditory processing, ADHD, and others can also impact a child’s ability to meet expectations in completing math problems. It’s also possible for kids who do have dyscalculia to have other learning disabilities as well.
So what is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a term used to describe a specific learning disability that affects a child’s ability to understand, learn, and perform math and numberbased operations. Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of difficulties with maths, including weaknesses in understanding the meaning of numbers, and difficulty applying mathematical principles to solve problems. Dyscalculia is rarely identified early. The biggest sign of a specific learning disorder is a notable discrepancy between ability and aptitude. A kid with dyscalculia may perform well in other subjects — such as English or history — but have very low grades in math and mathbased classes. In the DSM5, dyscalculia is called “specific learning disability with impairment in mathematics,” but “dyscalculia” is still an accepted term and is used by schools and learning specialists. while it’s not as well known or as understood as dyslexia, some experts believe it’s just as common. That means an estimated 5 to 10 percent of people might have dyscalculia.
What to look for in a child.
A young child with dyscalculia may:

Have difficulty recognizing numbers

Be delayed in learning to count

Struggle to connect numerical symbols (5) with their corresponding words (five)

Have difficulty recognizing patterns and placing things in order

Lose track when counting

Need to use visual aids — like fingers — to help count
And as math becomes a major part of the school day, kids with dyscalculia are likely to:

Have significant difficulty learning basic math functions like addition and subtraction, times tables and more

Be unable to grasp the concepts behind word problems and other nonnumerical math calculations

Have difficulty estimating how long it will take to complete a task

Struggle with math homework assignments and tests

Have difficulty keeping at gradelevel in math

Struggle to process visualspatial ideas like graphs and charts
However, the impact of Dyscalculia does not just relate to the school environment. The disorder can also affect kids outside of school. Children with dyscalculia also:

Have trouble remembering numbers such as zip codes, phone numbers, or game scores

Struggle with money matters such as making change, counting bills, calculating a tip, splitting a check or estimating how much something will cost.

Have difficulty judging the length of distances and how long it will take to get from one location to another

Struggle to remember directions

Have a hard time telling left from right

Get easily frustrated by games that require consistent scorekeeping, number strategies or counting

Have difficulty reading clocks and telling time
How is Dyscalculia diagnosed?
The only way to get a diagnosis is through an evaluation performed by a psychologist. This can happen at any age. Psychologists will recommend at least 6 months of evidencebased targeted intervention before a diagnosis is given. This is because they are looking to see if there is a deficit due to instructional reasons or is it a persistent learning difficulty. The assessment process will involve testing for other areas because people with dyscalculia often also struggle in other areas, like reading or working memory. But evaluations don’t just point out challenges. They also show strengths. A diagnosis of dyscalculia can sound scary. But many people find it a relief to know that their challenges with math are real. Plus, getting the right supports can help them thrive in school, work, and everyday life.