what is dyscalculia

Answering Your Questions About Dyscalculia

August 16, 2022

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a student’s ability to perform mathematical operations. Students with dyscalculia have difficulty with number-related concepts and struggle to perform other basic math skills. By some estimates, as many as 3-7% of students have this condition. 

Signs of dyscalculia may be evident as early as preschool. Your child may have trouble matching numbers—the concept and the written numbers—with quantities of items. For example, a child may not understand that the written number 2 represents two apples. Children may also have difficulties counting, comparing numbers, or placing numbers on a number line. 

As the student gets older, dyscalculia will often manifest as an inability to master basic arithmetic. Without that solid grasp of fundamental math skills, students will have trouble moving on to more complex math in school. They will also struggle with real-world activities such as using money, telling time, and estimating quantities or distances. 

Dyscalculia Symptoms

There is a wide range of symptoms that indicate dyscalculia. The symptoms are more than just struggling with new material in math class. Dyscalculia poses a fundamental challenge in understand basic math concepts and number facts. Symptoms usually begin in early childhood and students consistently struggle with math over time. The struggles may grow more challenging for teens and their self-esteem may suffer along with their academic performance in math class. 

Not all individuals with dyscalculia exhibit all these signs of the learning disorder. Consistently demonstrating at least six of the below major symptoms is an indication that a diagnosis may be appropriate. 

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty processing numbers and quantities 
  • Trouble recognizing quantities without counting
  • Trouble recalling basic math facts such as multiplication tables
  • Difficulty linking written numbers with amounts
  • Trouble with mental math and problem-solving
  • Difficulty understanding money and estimating quantities
  • Difficulty telling time on an analog clock
  • Poor visual and spatial orientation
  • Difficulty telling left from right 
  • Difficulty recognizing patterns and sequencing numbers

How to Overcome Dyscalculia

There is no specific cure for dyscalculia. Learning disorders like this cannot be treated with medication, though medication may help with co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. The goal for individuals with dyscalculia is to provide them with a framework of coping mechanisms and supports to help them build their math skills. 

Tutoring and extra help with math can be helpful for some students. Students may also be entitled to in-school accommodations under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Some helpful accommodations may include:

  • Receiving extra time for assignments and tests
  • Allowing the use of calculators
  • Adjusting the difficulty of assigned tasks
  • Using visual aids such as posters to remind students of basic math concepts
  • Benefiting from complementary instruction methods such as computer-based modules or hands-on projects

Learning coping skills and alternate methods for managing math-based tasks will help students as they grow into adulthood. Many adults with dyscalculia are eligible for workplace accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The accommodations that work in school can be used in the workplace as well. 

How The Forum Can Help

If you suspect your child has dyscalculia or another learning disorder, The Forum is here to help. Our team of specialists can work with your family on all ascots of identifying and managing learning disorders. 

  • Diagnosis and Evaluation: The team at The Forum can provide a comprehensive evaluation to understand your student’s history and current academic difficulties.
  • Academic Coaching: The Forum’s academic coaches work with your student to meet specific learning needs and help teens achieve success in the classroom. 
  • Individual Therapy: Our licensed therapists help teens process their learning disorder diagnosis and develop coping skills to manage their emotions. 
  • Case Management: Our case management team can help families coordinate with the variety of services available, including tutors, academic support specialists, educational consultants, psychotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, and more.

For more information about services for teens with dyscalculia, contact the Forum today.