Dyscalculia: Does Your Child Have Trouble with Numbers?
1 May 2019
Samira Tasneem
Have you ever got in a situation where your child is finding it really hard to understand simple math facts? For example, are they having a problem understanding the basic numbering order, being confused about which comes first 5 or 7? There is a strong chance that your kids might be a victim of dyscalculia.

You must have heard about dyslexia – the disability to read and write properly. In many cases, parents identify dyscalculia as dyslexia. Well, in reality, dyscalculia is a different learning disability that involves mathematical learning hardship.

Today, we will try to help you diagnose whether your child actually has dyscalculia or not and what you can to help him or her to tackle this situation.

What is Dyscalculia: Understanding the Condition

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that makes it hard or nearly impossible for a person to grasp the fundamentals of mathematics. The symptoms vary from person to person, and not everyone will have the same issues.

You might be thinking that every child faces problems at first while learning mathematical fundamentals. Well, it's true that a lot of children find math difficult at first. However, they outgrow these issues as time passes.

On the other hand, dyscalculia is a lifelong condition. It doesn’t go away as someone is growing up.

What are some common and basic identifiers of dyscalculia?

As we have said, dyscalculia affects each person differently. But there are some symptoms that might be considered as strong identifiers –

  • Difficulty understanding quantity
  • Inability to tell which number is bigger and which one small
  • Failure to understand the “5” and “five” are the same
  • Difficulty to understand the mathematical symbols and their meaning

These are some of the primary symptoms. There are a lot of dominant signs that we would discuss later.

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One more thing, there is no certain research that confirms what exactly causes dyscalculia only some speculations. Moreover, no expert knows for sure whether dyscalculia is more dominant in boys or girls.

Signs and Symptoms: Does Your Child Have Dyscalculia?

First things first, there is not certain symptoms like most other disorders when it comes to dyscalculia. Basically, the disorder is connected to mathematical difficulties, but it's not mandatory for two cases to be exactly the same. However, don't confuse it thinking it a simple case of procrastination.  

Just like other learning disabilities (Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADHD, etc.), the symptoms become prominent when kids start going to schools. Some may start showing signs in the preschool, while some will not show them until grade school or middle school.

Check out for these symptoms grade wise –

Preschool Level

  • Inability to coordinate number to a group of things

Example: Your child has brought five apples from a basket even if you have asked him or her to bring seven. Has it been happening for some time?

  • Cannot sort items in order

Example: You have asked your child to organize books, pencils, notepads and he or she has been struggling to do so.

  • Inability to recognize patterns

Example: You are asking your kid to organize objects from smallest to biggest, and they are failing constantly.

  • Struggling to count numbers

Example: Your child is failing to understand the fundamentals of counting. They become confused when you ask them to bring three pens.

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Grade School Level

  • Finds it hard to harness basic math facts

Example: A kid might forget basic math calculations like 3+6=9

  • Failure to identify the functions of the mathematical signs

Example: A kid could struggle to determine the differences between “+” and “–” signs.

  • Finds it hard to calculate mentally

Example: Rather than doing the simple calculations mentally, i.e. 9-2=7, a kid could use fingers to count.

  • Cannot comprehend the simple relations between numbers

Example: A child with dyscalculia might struggle to understand 9 is greater than 7.

The problems will rise exponentially as the child grows as he or she finds it hard to grasp the basic mathematics. If you see your child acting so despite putting much effort and concentration, he or she could be a victim of dyscalculia.

How to Help a Child with Dyscalculia?

First, you must not blame the child being negligent to his or her studies. You have to be patient in such drastic situations.

There can be several causes for a child to have dyscalculia –

  • Genetic issue
  • Improper brain development
  • Negligence of the mother during pregnancy, i.e. fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Brain damage

Although, the experts and the doctors are not entirely sure of the true cause of the disorder. These are just mere speculations.

dyscalculia | SpellQuiz |

There is a strong link between dyslexia and dyscalculia as about 40% - 50% child affected with dyscalculia also have dyslexia.

As a parent, you should try following some helpful activities –

  • Introduce multi-sensory teaching techniques
  • Use software or apps that can help your child for studying
  • Playing fun board games that can help a child with mathematical problem solving
  • Always motivate and inspire your child
  • Never say anything that can hurt their feelings or self-esteem
  • Focus on other skills that your kid might have a talent for
  • If possible, find schools (even homeschooling is a great option) or curriculum that can help a child with dyscalculia

Final Words

You shouldn’t feel disheartened if you see your child suffering from dyscalculia. If you feel shallow, it will make them feel even more shallow. You should always cheer them up and help them have a better perspective of life. Moreover, there are a lot of people with dyscalculia who are now studying in top-tier colleges. So, stay strong and keep supporting your child.

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