Math can be a difficult subject for many, especially the more advanced you get.
Besides the typical disinterest or struggles of learning something new, sometimes, something more could be underlying difficulties with mathematics.
This blog will examine the following questions about the specific learning disorder dyscalculia:
- What is dyscalculia?
- How common is dyscalculia?
- What is the history of dyscalculia?
- What are the everyday life implications of dyscalculia?
- Why is having dyscalculia often misconstrued as laziness?
- How does dyscalculia affect adults?
- I’m bad at math, is it possible I suffer from dyscalculia?
- Is dyscalculia inherited from parents?
- Can dyscalculia be treated?
- Can I grow out of my dyscalculia?
- Are autism and dyscalculia linked?
- Is there a connection between creativity and dyscalculia?
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand and work with numbers. It’s also called “math dyslexia” as it is analogous to those who struggle particularly with words. The disorder directly disrupts brain areas that process math and number comprehension.
People with dyscalculia struggle with basic math operations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. Along with these, learning more complicated math concepts like geometry, algebra, and calculus will be met with even greater difficulty.
How Common is the Learning Disability Dyscalculia?
Approximately 3 to 7 percent of children, adolescents, and adults suffer from dyscalculia in the United States, although statistics aren’t exact since the disorder is challenging to diagnose.
No single test can identify dyscalculia in an individual. Instead, a doctor will diagnose the disorder by looking at patterns of struggles with math concepts despite proper and reasonable instruction.
What is the History of Dyscalculia?
The term “dyscalculia” was coined in 1974 by Czech researcher Ladislav Kosc. The learning disorder was defined in an article called “Developmental Dyscalculia.”
Despite being named in the 20th century, dyscalculia can be traced back to ancient times.
What are the Everyday Life Implications of Dyscalculia?
People with dyscalculia feel the effects of it every day. Because of this disorder’s impact on brain and eye function, it can create issues with basic math skills, time management, measurement, and spatial reasoning or have co-occurring learning disabilities, among other problems.
Basic Math Skills
- Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
- Managing finances
- Calculating change
- Telling time
- Pre-planning events
- Meeting deadlines
- Planning projects
Measurement Comprehension – Estimating distance or weight
- Baking and cooking
- Building or constructing
- Taking part in science or math projects
Spatial Reasoning – Understanding shapes, sizes, and positions
- Organizing and cleaning
- Finding a location and reading a map
- Navigating driving and walking
- Reaching for items
Co-Occurring Learning Disabilities and Problems
- Low-self esteem, social withdrawal
- Mental health problems due to low self-esteem (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.)
- Career limitations
Why is Having Dyscalculia Often Misconstrued as Laziness?
Individuals with dyscalculia can be viewed as lazy due to how they appear while learning. They may avoid specific tasks or give up on a concept, seeming not to put in the effort.
Unlike other disorders, such as dyslexia which is similar only concerning reading, writing, and word problems, dyscalculia is less known, making it easier to be misunderstood.
How Does Dyscalculia Affect Adults?
Adults with dyscalculia often feel the disorder’s impact in multiple areas of life. Along with mathematical difficulties, dyscalculia can cause issues with time management, hurting both professional and personal life. Likewise, problems with spatial awareness can hinder tasks like navigating directions.
Missing work deadlines, struggling to make time with friends, and inconveniences with daily tasks can affect self-esteem and confidence, leading to mental health problems.
Dyscalculia can also hinder opportunities in job selections, making certain careers seem too challenging to pursue. That said, people with dyscalculia can seek professional support to achieve their goals and work to overcome barriers due to the disorder.
I’m Bad at Math. Is it Possible I Suffer From Dyscalculia?
While dyscalculia stems from problems with numbers and mathematical concepts, this doesn’t mean anyone who struggles with math has the disorder. Along with math processes, dyscalculia causes other symptoms such as spatial reasoning, measurements, and time management. The only way to confirm you have the condition is by obtaining a professional diagnosis.
Is Dyscalculia Inherited From Parents?
The exact causes of dyscalculia are not fully understood. There are noticeable patterns that point to the disorder running in families. This suggests a genetic component in the brain’s development. Researchers have commonly found that a child who acquired dyscalculia has a parent or sibling who struggles with math concepts.
Can Dyscalculia be Treated?
Dyscalculia is a treatable condition, not curable. Children with dyscalculia can be treated because their brains are still developing. Treatment aids in gaining skills and abilities that allow them to adapt to the learning disorder and improve their cognitive functions.
Typically, treatment for dyscalculia includes the following:
- Specialized educational support. Individuals with dyscalculia might need additional help, such as an IEP, one-on-one tutoring, after-school programs, and additional courses.
- Cognitive training. Exercise and brain games can improve the brain’s ability to process information (e.g., working with memory training, puzzles, card games, model building, meditation, and physical exercise).
- Medication. Stimulants used in treating ADHD can help improve focus and attention in those with mathematical struggles.
Can I Grow out of My Dyscalculia?
While there are multiple methods to improve the effects of dyscalculia, the condition itself cannot be outgrown or cured. Dyscalculia is a neurological condition that stays with an individual their entire life, but consistent treatment can lessen the symptoms over time. Reaching out to a professional for early intervention is the most effective way to minimize dyscalculia’s hindrances in life.
Are Autism and Dyscalculia Linked?
Both autism and dyscalculia are developmental neurological disorders. While dyscalculia targets the brain’s number sense, autism impacts multiple parts of the brain, including social interaction, communication, and behavior.
Some evidence suggests a connection between the two, including a higher likelihood of having both disorders co-occurring. Each condition has properties that make it unique. A person may have autism and, despite exhibiting math problems, not have a dyscalculia diagnosis and vice versa. A proper diagnosis is required before either of these conditions can be determined.
Is There a Connection Between Creativity and Dyscalculia?
While there’s little research on whether dyscalculia is connected to creativity, people with the condition commonly exhibit artistic abilities and big imaginations through their learning styles.