A Guide To Dyscalculia, A Math Learning Disability

Dyscalculia is a difficulty in mathematical performance as a result of impairment in parts of the brain which are involved in mathematical processing, without a concurrent impairment in general mental function. Dyscalculia has often been referred to as a math disorder and learning disability, whereby people who suffer from dyscalculia have varying difficulties and challenges with mathematics. What is common is that people who suffer from dyscalculia have number and quantity-related difficulties and find maths extremely challenging due to their difficulty with basic numerical skills such as counting. Fortunately, there are many strategies and techniques to help teenagers and children with dyscalculia become successful in math. Identifying a child’s learning needs and intervening as early as possible with the correct strategies can greatly aid the child’s learning and mathematical development.

A Guide To Dyscalculia, A Math Learning Disability

Learn the Language of Math

Parents can help by encouraging their children to talk out loud as they solve maths problems and learn mathematical skills. Through speech and repetition, children will be able to better visualize and remember the learning process. This helps with their development and in building up fundamentals. Not all children who struggle with math and have dyscalculia have poor language skills. Some of them may have strong language skills that can make the process of learning maths easier. One way would be to teach children different synonyms for different math terms.  When discussing subtraction problems, parents could use the terms ‘minus’, ‘less than’, and ‘decrease’. By exposing your child to different terms and explaining their meanings, your child will be able to associate those words with the associated mathematical terms and learn better.

Visual Models and Application

There are many learning strategies recommended for children and teenagers with dyscalculia. One of the more effective methods is to implement a multi-sensory, visual application approach whereby the child is involved in numerous hands-on learning. When teaching basic addition and subtraction skills, you could perhaps use an abacus or dominoes to illustrate the mathematical concept across. Several child specialists illustrate this point by encouraging children to recognize the number patterns on dominoes and dice instead of individually counting the number of dots each time. By implementing play with learning, children will be able to learn and pick up the concepts faster whilst applying them to their daily life. Children with dyscalculia, however, may continue to face problems despite repeated application approaches, thus parents and teachers have to ensure that their basic mathematical skills are strong and be patient when teaching.

Specialist and Professional Help

Children with dyscalculia will benefit from a holistic approach and care by specialists and teachers in addition to their parents. Schools will have special education services whereby the curriculum and lessons are specially designed for children with dyscalculia such that it is easier for them to learn mathematical skills. Your child would be able to qualify for an Individualised Education Plan (IEP), whereby a trained teacher would be assigned to your child to better understand his specific needs and problems. Having early intervention by education specialists and constant encouragement is necessary as children will feel overwhelmed and anxious by their difficulties. Parents need to praise their child’s achievements and acknowledge their struggles. With sufficient support and guidance, children with dyscalculia can overcome their challenges and be more confident.


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