What is Dyscalculia?
Pronounced DIS-KAL-KOOL-EE-AH, ‘dyscalculia’ comes from Greek and Latin and means ‘counting badly’.
Dyscalculia, a specific learning disability that hampers one’s ability to comprehend and work with numbers, isn’t limited to childhood challenges. It can persist into adulthood, significantly affecting various aspects of life and work.
Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder that affects 5-6% of the population. This group of individuals process numbers differently from their typically developing peers and use a wide range of approaches: inefficient and laborious methods, rely on using their fingers whilst counting, unable to tell which of two numbers is larger, have difficulty estimating, and use uneconomical methods to solve problems. No two adults with developmental dyscalculia present the same profile of strengths and needs.
Adults with developmental dyscalculia show difficulties in the acquisition of core foundational number skills. It is, therefore, important to identify their Specific areas of Learning Difficulties (SpLD) so that a targeted and intentional intervention can be offered.
The developmental building blocks of acquiring, recalling and applying numbers in their symbolic and non-symbolic forms requires the efficient coordination of numerous cognitive and sensory pathways involved in supporting number development: working memory, auditory and visual processing, attention and visuospatial perception.
Studies show that Developmental Dyscalculia is often encountered as a co-occurring difficulty in a variety of medical conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental language disorders, dyslexia, epilepsy, and Fragile X syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Autism, Turners Syndrome, Duchenne Muscular dystrophy, DiGeorge syndrome and foetal alcohol syndrom
Adults grappling with dyscalculia may encounter some or more of the following difficulties:
- Basic arithmetic struggles: Performing basic calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division becomes arduous. Mental maths and quantity estimation pose significant challenges.
- Impaired number sense: Conceptualizing numbers and grasping their magnitude becomes problematic. Comparing numbers, recognizing patterns, and establishing relationships between them become hurdles.
- Time and measurement obstacles: Comprehending and estimating time, reading analogue clocks, and understanding units of measurement (e.g., kilometres, centimetres, pounds) become daunting tasks.
- Financial management challenges: Effectively managing finances becomes an uphill battle. Budgeting, comprehending interest rates, calculating discounts or percentages, and organizing financial information prove difficult.
- Spatial and navigational difficulties: Dyscalculia affects spatial awareness and sense of direction. Tasks involving spatial relationships, such as reading maps, following directions, or estimating distances, become challenging.
- Organization and sequencing issues: Organizing and sequencing information becomes a struggle. Following multi-step procedures, understanding schedules, and recalling mathematical formulas pose difficulties.
- Anxiety and low self-esteem: Mathematical tasks trigger anxiety and frustration in adults with dyscalculia. This can lead to negative attitudes towards maths and feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy due to their challenges.
It’s crucial to note that dyscalculia is a specific learning disability and is not a reflection of intelligence. With the right support, assessment, accommodations, and targeted instruction, adults with dyscalculia can develop strategies to manage their difficulties and enhance their mathematical skills.
If you suspect or know someone struggling with dyscalculia, seeking a dyscalculia assessment and guidance from a qualified assessor, is highly recommended.
Dynamo Post14 focus is on supporting adults with developmental dyscalculia using its researched and validated developmental NumberSenseMMR™ framework.
A label of developmental or maths developmental delays serves no purpose if the individual cannot be supported. Dynamo Post14 offers recommendations to re-position the learning of numbers and maths.