Despite the fact that Dyscalculia affects around 6% of the general population, many learners, tutors and educators are unfamiliar with the specifics. The next few blogs will cover some important aspects of dyscalculia, what is entails, the symptoms, the diagnosing of dyscalculia, various effects, and more. I hope you find this helpful!
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects one’s ability to do mathematics and to grasp mathematical concepts. Learners with dyscalculia struggle to learn mathematics and to develop mathematical skills despite an adequate learning environment at home and at school. There are different severities of dyscalculia and learners will react or adapt to each differently. Some learners might work hard to memorise simple number facts. Other learners may know what to do but not understand the reason behind certain mathematical methods or steps. This is likely because learners with dyscalculia are not able to see the logic behind mathematics. Learners with less severe dyscalculia might understand the logic behind maths but are unsure how and when to apply their knowledge when solving mathematical problems.
Dyscalculia affects people throughout their lifespan. Children with dyscalculia tend to begin falling behind from as early as primary school. Oftentimes, learners may develop a strong dislike for mathematics as a result. Once learners reach secondary school, they usually struggle to pass maths and science subjects.
Warning Signs of Dyscalculia
Dyscalculia comprises various types of mathematical difficulties. Your learner’s symptoms may not look exactly like those of another learner. Observing your learner and taking notes to share with teachers and doctors are good ways to find the most effective approaches and support for your learner. While the signs of dyscalculia look dissimilar at different ages, it does tend to become more apparent as kids get older but it can be detected as early as preschool. There is not sufficient research done on dyscalculia and so there is also no definitive list of symptoms and other than the obvious difficulty with mathematics, we know very little about what symptoms continue through to adolescence and adulthood. Because dyscalculia is best monitored and helped when spotted as early as possible, the following list has been comprised to help you identify any presently known symptoms:
Warning Signs in Preschool or Kindergarten
- Has trouble learning to count, especially when it comes to assigning each object in a group a number
- Has trouble recognizing number symbols, such as making the connection between “7” and the wordseven
- Struggles to connect a number to a real-life situation, such as knowing that “3” can apply to any group that has three things in it; 3 cookies, 3 cars, 3 kids, etc.
- Has trouble remembering numbers, skips numbers, or counts in the wrong order
- Finds it hard to recognize patterns and to sort items by size, shape or colour
- Avoids playing games that involve numbers, counting and other math concepts
Warning Signs in Grades 7 – 9
- Has trouble distinguishing numbers from symbols
- Has trouble learning and remembering basic math facts, such as 2 + 4 = 6
- Struggles to identify mathematical signs (+-) and use them correctly
- May continue to use fingers to count instead of using more sophisticated strategies
- Has trouble writing numerals clearly or putting them in the correct column
- Has trouble coming up with a plan to solve a math problem
- Struggles to understand words related to math, such asgreater than and less than
- Has trouble telling left from his right, and even a poor sense of direction
- Has difficulty remembering phone numbers and game scores
- Avoids playing games that involve number strategies
- Has trouble telling time
Warning Signs in High School
- Struggles to apply math concepts to everyday life, including monetary matters such as estimating the total cost, making exact change and figuring out a tip
- Has trouble measuring things such as ingredients in a simple recipe
- Struggles finding his or her way around and worries about getting lost
- Has a hard time grasping information shown on graphs or charts
- Has trouble finding and using different approaches to the same math problem
- Learners may lack assurance in activities that entail estimating speed and distance, such as playing sports and learning to drive
Symptoms of dyscalculia
- Difficulty imagining a mental number line
- Particular difficulty with subtraction
- Difficulty using finger counting (slow, inaccurate, unable to immediately recognise finger configurations)
- Trouble decomposing numbers (e.g. recognizing that 10 is made up of 4 and 6)
- Difficulty understanding place value
- Trouble learning and understanding reasoning methods and multi-step calculation procedures
- Anxiety about or a negative attitude towards maths (caused by the dyscalculia)
Now that you are aware of the many and varied symptoms of dyscalculia, it will be easy for you as a tutor to spot any correlations or learning disabilities should your learner ever have. If, during your tutoring sessions, you notice your learner experiencing difficulty, it is important that you keep a record and then speak to his or her parents about your concerns.
The next blog will briefly list how dyscalculia is diagnosed and discuss various other effects of dyscalculia. If you have any further information or experiences, please write in and let us fellow tutors know!
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