Dyscalculia is a math learning disorder characterized by the inability to grasp math concepts and how to apply them to every day life. Many call it math dyslexia or math disability. Dyscalculia, however, has more to do with number sense than pure computation. Think of it as the relationship between telling time and understanding what time is. Or, think of it as computing a basic multiplication problem like 2 times 3. We know the answer is six. Someone with dyscalculia may know that the answer is six but cannot understand why the answer is six.
Each person with dyscalculia has different capabilities and face different life challenges.
Other Key Points About Dyscalculia
- It's a biological condition that is lifelong.
- It is a brain disorder marked by physical abnormalities in the sections of the brain that control memory and learning.
- Most people are born with it, but it can be acquired through injury.
- Research is being conducted to determine if the neural pathways in the brain can be "rewired" to reduce the symptoms of dyscalculia. This is the known as the science of neuroplasticity.
At What Ages Do Symptoms Appear? What Are They?
Dyscalculia symptoms can begin showing up as early as preschool. Learning numbers can be bewildering. Your preschooler may not be able to link the number 3 with the word three or understand the reasoning behind putting the number 2 under a picture of two birds.
In elementary or middle school, dyscalculia may keep a child from learning basic multiplication or subtraction. Sorting and patterns may present difficulty. Telling their right hand from their left may pose problems. This can affect social activities such as sports. If your child is told to play right field, he may someone to point which direction to run.
High school years can be embarrassingly difficult. Your teenager may not understand the most basic math concepts and how they apply to algebra problems or simple graphing. Driving a car might be easy, but taking the driver's test questions about calculating the distance to stop may elude your teen.
Those are just a few symptoms of dyscalculia. There are many. Again, they affect each person differently as each person's life and environment that they live in is uniquely theirs.
Are There Schools To Help Manage Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia intervention begins at home and extends to school. There are schools for students dealing with physiological processing issues such as mixed expressive-receptive language disorder, autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. More often, however, the interventions begin through school special education programs and home-based activities that relate math to the activities of everyday living.
For instance, you can help your child at home understand the "why" of math relationships with simple projects like measuring for recipes or building a simple book shelf.
At school, interventions take more time and require testing and paperwork in order to give your child the extra resources he needs for understanding math and math relationships. Both at home and at school, visual organizers (visual aids) can help kids develop the relationships that will take them into adulthood. Dyscalculia symptoms are manageable given the right tools to manage them.
Look into your local area for any dyscalculia schools that may help your child.