Difficulty with Math
Dsycalculia is a learning disability with math. About 60 percent of children with dyslexia have difficulty with numbers or number relationships. However, about 11 percent of students with dyslexia excel in mathematics, while the remaining students have ordinary mathematical abilities. Thus, although strongly associated with dyslexia, dyscalculia should be considered a separate and different learning problem.
Symptoms of dyscalculia include:
Problems with operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
Difficulty learning math facts such as memorizing times tables.
Confusion over mathematical symbols such as: + and ×; −, ÷ and =; < (less than) and > (greater than).
Difficulty with understanding words used to describe mathematical operations, such as “difference” or “sum.”
Tendency to reverse or transpose numbers in writing, such as writing 31 for 13.
Difficulty understanding concepts related to time and learning to tell time.
Difficulty grasping and remembering math rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), or algorithms used for problem-solving.
Some of the problems associated with dyscalculia stem from the same underlying issues with language processing and sequencing that characterize dyslexia.
Your child may be able to understand math concepts when working with math manipulatives, but may struggle working with numerals and mathematical symbols and formulas, and have difficulty understanding written procedures for solving math problems, such as “borrowing” or “carrying” in addition or subtraction. She may be able to understand math that is represented symbolically, but struggle with word problems; she may know that 3 + 2 = 5, but be unable to work out a problem like “If Mary has 3 cookies and Tim has 2, how many cookies in all?”
Your child will learn math concepts better using manipulatives and hands-on activities. Encourage him to use small objects such as beans or his fingers to aid in calculation. Using play money and making change may aid with understanding of addition and subtraction. Use strategies to help demonstrate patterns and relationships involved in mathematics, rather than rely on rote memorization.
Even if your child seems to have strong mathematical ability, he may use unorthodox approaches to arrive at a solution, or be unable to explain the process he uses in words. Your child may seem to know the answer to some problems immediately, but be very slow to work out pencil and paper answers. This also is a reflection of the underlying language problems, and occurs when a child relies on his stronger visual spatial reasoning skills to picture the problem and solution, rather than using orderly manipulation of numbers.
Ironically, these skills may enable your child to excel later on with higher mathematics, such as trigonometry or calculus, but often hold the child back during early years when emphasis is on simple arithmetic and rote memorization of math facts.