What is Dyscalculia?

People who suffer from dyscalculia have the same problems with numbers and mathematical concepts that people with dyslexia have with reading or people with dysgraphia have with writing. The concepts expressed by the symbols wind up jumbled within the person’s mind. According to the website AboutDyscalculia.org, a definitive list of signs and symptoms does not exist, largely because of the current lack of understanding regarding the condition.

What We Do Know

Despite the aforementioned lack, there are some signs that could point to someone having the condition. They include:

•Not using counting strategies to conquer math problems

•Not being able to memorize things like times tables

•Not understanding the concept of “quantity”

•In rare cases, not being able to count at all

Usually, these signs appear very early in life. Additionally, the condition might also be linked with other learning disabilities, including dyslexia and dysgraphia.

Different Severity

Not everyone will suffer the condition in the same way. As stated, the most severely affected might not even be able to count. Others might do very well with simple addition, but subtraction and higher math might be beyond them. Still others might have a knack for complex algebra while not being able to understand single-digit addition. There might even be a select few who are savants at the actual calculations but have no real concept of the value of numbers.

Coping Strategies

Playing math-related games reinforces the techniques that are deficient. In dominoes, for example, not only does the player have to count the pips on the bones but also perform multiplication of the “5” times table to score the bonus points. In Parcheesi, and its cousins, such as Sorry!, the player must count the number of spaces moved. Backgammon is another game that reinforces math concepts.

When doing math, either as homework for students or adult applications, have a calculator handy. Most cell phones have a built-in calculator app. Use graph paper to form a grid upon which to perform the necessary work. The visual stimulus can help lessen the organizational defects that come with the condition. Be creative with colors to represent different parts of an equation. Make reference sheets that outline and reinforce basic concepts.

Support is Crucial

Having a learning disability can be isolating. Shame and confusion force sufferers to withdraw from social interaction. Particularly in schoolchildren, support and encouragement are both keys to success. Adults, too, might have similar fears. As human beings, they deserve the same kind of support and not derision. The human mind is capable of much more than that for which we give it credit. While no one “outgrows” the condition, by applying both the coping strategies above and other methods, some not yet discovered, one can control the condition and develop the necessary skills for mathematical success.

Despite the frustrations that come along with it, the combination of effective control methods and a nurturing support system can make all the difference when it comes to managing dyscalculia.