What Is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math. There is no single type of math disability. Dyscalculia can vary from person to person. And, it can affect people differently at different stages of life.
Two major areas of weakness can contribute to math learning disabilities:
- Visual-spatial difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing what the eye sees
- Language processing difficulties, which result in a person having trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears
Using alternate learning methods, people with dyscalculia can achieve success.
What are the Effects of Dyscalculia?
Disabilities involving math vary greatly. So, the effects they have on a person's development can vary just as much. For instance, a person who has trouble processing language will face different challenges in math than a person who has trouble with visual-spatial relationships. Another person may have trouble remembering facts and keeping a sequence of steps in order. This person will have yet a different set of math-related challenges to overcome.
For individuals with visual-spatial troubles, it may be hard to visualize patterns or different parts of a math problem. Language processing problems can make it hard for a person to get a grasp of the vocabulary of math. Without the proper vocabulary and a clear understanding of what the words represent, it is difficult to build on math knowledge. When basic math facts are not mastered earlier, teens and adults with dyscalculia may have trouble moving on to more advanced math applications. These require that a person be able to follow multi-step procedures and be able to identify critical information needed to solve equations and more complex problems.
What Are the Warning Signs of Dyscalculia?
Having trouble learning math skills does not necessarily mean a person has a learning disability. All students learn at different paces. It can take young people time and practice for formal math procedures to make practical sense. So how can you tell if someone has dyscalculia? If a person continues to display trouble with the areas listed below, consider testing for dyscalculia. Extra help may be beneficial.
Dyscalculia: Warning Signs By Age
| Young Children
|| School-Age Children
|| Teenagers & Adults
|*Difficulty learning to count||*Trouble learning math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplicatin, division)||*Difficulty estimating costs like groceries bills|
|*Trouble recognizing printed numbers||*Difficulty developing math problem-solving skills||*Difficulty learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts|
|*Difficulty tying together the idea of a number (4) and how it exists in the world (4 hours, 4 cars, 4 children)||*Poor long term memory for math functions||*Poor ability to budget or balance a checkbook|
|*Poor memory for numbers||*Not familiar with math vocabulary||*Trouble with concepts of time, such as sticking to a schedule or approximating time|
|*Trouble organizing things ina logical way - putting round objects in one place and square ones in another||*Difficulty measuring things||*Trouble with mental math|
|*Avoiding games that require strategy||*Difficulty finding different approaches to one problem|
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2009 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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