A Math Learning Disability or Dyscalculia affects an individual’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts, and is associated with weakness in fundamental number representation and processing. Ranging in level of severity from mild to severe, some individuals display language-based math disability and some have spatially based math difficulties. Those with spatially based math difficulties commonly have struggles in their elementary years with basic math facts and procedures. These individuals have struggles in reading and writing too. Their math struggles are related to those processes impacted by language, for example, verbal memory, sequential processing, and at times by attention deficits, including distractibility and impulsivity. The latter group tend to have struggles related to interpreting graphs/maps, visual representations, and estimation skills. Regardless, early identification of math difficulties helps intervene appropriately, but also prevents children from thinking that no matter how hard they try, they still can’t achieve. Providing the appropriate support and tools to children with a math disability, goes a far way towards maintaining their confidence and work ethic.
Signs and Symptoms
- Shows difficulty understanding concepts of place value, quantity, number lines, positive and negative value, carrying and borrowing
- Has difficulty understanding and doing word problems
- Has difficulty sequencing information or events
- Exhibits difficulty using steps involved in math operations
- Shows difficulty understanding fractions
- Is challenged making change and handling money
- Displays difficulty recognizing patterns when adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing
- Has difficulty putting language to math processes
- Has difficulty understanding concepts related to time, such as days, weeks, months, seasons, quarters, etc.
- Exhibits difficulty organizing problems on the page, keeping numbers lined up, following through on long division problems