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Dyscalculia: A Quick Look

By: National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)

What you should know about dyscalculia

  • Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of learning difficulties involving math skills.
  • There is no single form of dyscalculia - difficulties can vary from person to person and can change throughout a lifetime.
  • Two major areas of weakness that are responsible for learning disabilities in math are
    • Visual-spatial difficulties - which result in a person having trouble processing what the eye sees
    • Language processing difficulty - which result in a person having trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears.
  • Like all learning disabilities, dyscalculia is a life-long challenge.
  • Using alternate learning methods, people with dyscalculia can learn how to achieve success.

Dyscalculia: Warning signs by age

Young children

  • Difficulty learning to count
  • Trouble recognizing printed numbers
  • Difficulty tying together the idea of a number (4) and how it exists in the world (4 horses, 4 cars, 4 children)
  • Poor memory for numbers
  • Trouble organizing things in a logical way - putting round objects in one place and square ones in another

School-age children

  • Trouble learning math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
  • Difficulty developing math problem-solving skills
  • Poor long term memory for math functions
  • Not familiar with math vocabulary
  • Difficulty measuring things
  • Avoiding games that require strategy

Teenagers & adults

  • Difficulty estimating costs like groceries bills
  • Difficulty learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts
  • Poor ability to budget or balance a checkbook
  • Trouble with concepts of time, such as sticking to a schedule or approximating time
  • Trouble with mental math
  • Difficulty finding different approaches to one problem

If a person continues to display difficulty over time the areas outlined above, testing for dyscalculia should be considered.

Copyright 2007 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.