If your child is having difficulties understanding the meaning of quantities, concepts such as “smallest” and “biggest,” and estimating time, they may have dyscalculia. Although this condition is usually diagnosed in childhood, people do not outgrow it. In fact, children who find math challenging may continue struggling with it in adulthood. But what causes dyscalculia, and what are some of the signs that your child may be dealing with this condition? If you ask these questions and wonder about dyscalculia, you are in the right spot. In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about this math learning disability. 

By the end, you will understand your child and be on the right track to help them. Of course, we always recommend seeking the assistance of a trained professional at a reliable clinic. For the best results, reach out to General Pediatric Care in Plantation and Doral and get started today.

So, what is dyscalculia, and what are the symptoms? How common or rare is this disability? Find out below.

What is Dyscalculia?

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Although every child struggles with math (especially when learning for the first time), some may be dealing with dyscalculia. According to the definition, dyscalculia is a relatively rare condition that makes it challenging to do math and assignments that include math. Unfortunately, this math learning disability is not as well researched as dyslexia, the learning difficulty that causes spelling, writing, and reading issues. 

However, some experts believe that dyscalculia, the math disability, is just as widespread as dyslexia. According to the estimates, approximately five to ten percent of individuals may be dealing with dyscalculia.

Moreover, it is also unclear whether the math disability affects girls more than boys. According to the majority of findings, there is no difference. So, the statement that boys do math better than girls is a myth.

Whenever in doubt, we suggest consulting with a professional for expert guidance. If you require expert diagnosis and support, consult with Worldwide Pediatrics.

Math Dyslexia: Why is It a Problematic Term?

There are numerous terms to describe dyscalculia. For instance, mathematics learning disorder is one term, while another common one is a mathematics learning disability. Some may also refer to this condition as “number dyslexia” or “math dyslexia. However, this tends to be misleading. This is because people with dyslexia find it challenging to read. Whereas individuals with dyscalculia have difficulties with math.

What Causes Dyscalculia?

Although the exact causes of dyscalculia remain unknown, researchers have found two possible explanations. These two causes of dyscalculia include:

  1. Brain development: According to brain imaging studies, there are differences between individuals with math disabilities versus unaffected people. These differences are related to how our brains are structured and how it works in areas responsible for learning skills.
  2. Hereditary and genes: This math learning disability tends to run in the family. Based on the findings, genetics can have a significant role in math problems.

Overall, when it comes to what causes dyscalculia, findings suggest that differences in how our brains function and how they are structured may cause bring about this condition.

Fortunately, researchers continuously look for new data on what causes this math disability. Not only that, but experts are also trying to discover strategies that can help people “rewire” their brains to make learning mathematics easier.

How Common is Dyscalculia?

As mentioned, dyscalculia symptoms may be evident in around five to ten percent of individuals. Although some believe that girls struggle with math more than boys, thus they tend to be more prone to having a math disability, this is a myth. In reality, most researchers claim that there is no difference between genders.

That said, some individuals may remain undiagnosed. Others might not experience the common dyscalculia symptoms. Hence, the percentage of people dealing with this math disability may be higher.

If you notice your child struggling with a math learning disability, consider reaching out for professional help. It is usually believed that children “outgrow” a math disability, but they may carry it into adulthood. Whenever in doubt, seek out a reliable expert for advice and guidance.

The Dyscalculia Symptoms and Signs

People dealing with this learning disability can display symptoms in various ways. These dyscalculia symptoms can differ from one person to the next, and they may show up differently depending on the person’s age. 

Complications with numbers can be evident as early as preschool. In other cases, individuals may encounter challenges as mathematics becomes more advanced in school. 

The most common dyscalculia symptoms and signs may include finding it challenging to understand:

  • Judging distance and speed
  • Estimating time
  • Counting money
  • Concepts such as smallest vs. biggest and understanding the meaning of quantities
  • Math facts in school (such as timetables)
  • The logic behind mathematics
  • That the word “five” is the same as the number 5 and that both of them refer to five items

Additionally, one of the more common dyscalculia symptoms includes finding it hard to hold numbers in the head while solving math problems.

How Is a Dyscalculia Diagnosed?

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Often, people with a math disability remain undiagnosed. Due to this, children can feel less intelligent (which is not true), different than their peers, and as if something is wrong with them. As a result, some children may deal with low-self esteem and other issues in childhood and later in adulthood.

The only way to determine if your child has a math learning disability is to receive a professional evaluation. Parents or caretakers can choose to do this at any point. Keep in mind that the evaluators utilize different tests for children than adults.

Children can receive a free evaluation at school. You can also turn to specialists at private clinics for evaluations for adults and children. 

In order to diagnose a math learning disability, the evaluators use different tests specific to dyscalculia. Besides that, the experts also test for other challenges. Since people with dyscalculia may also struggle with working memory and reading, conducting tests that include these skills are also beneficial. It is important to remember that the evaluations do not only show challenges. In fact, they also reveal the child’s or the adult’s strengths.

Children may receive adequate support and services by receiving a professional diagnosis (or “identification”). For instance, children struggling with a learning disability can receive special instruction in mathematics. Moreover, schools can cater to children with math disabilities and help them make learning easier.

That said, adults dealing with these math complications may receive accommodations at their workplace. According to the current law, employers need to give sufficient support to individuals with disabilities, including dyscalculia and other learning disabilities.

All in all, a math learning disability can sound daunting. However, many individuals with this condition can find relief knowing that their mathematics struggles are real. Adults receiving support may perform better at their workplace. Moreover, receiving support from friends, family, and experts can help children thrive in school, in relationships, and in everyday life.

Consider evaluation tests if you or a loved one are having trouble with mathematics. 

How to Support People with a Math Learning Disability

There are numerous ways to help someone struggling with a learning disability. For instance, some support strategies include:

  • Allowing the use of calculators in class or at work.
  • Providing explicit instructions in counting and other calculation techniques.
  • Using time tables and number fact charts to help with recall.
  • Focusing on one math fact at a time and ensuring its mastery before learning new facts.
  • Playing games that help reinforce math concepts.
  • Making numbers friendlier (for instance, encouraging children or adults to minus one from each number, such as 399-16, instead of 400-17)

Math can be challenging for everyone. People with learning disabilities may find calculations even more complex. Help your child today by reaching out to us at Worldwide Pediatrics, where you can receive proper evaluation and guidance.