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Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects an individual's ability to do math. Early diagnosis can help to avoid poor school performance
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ADHD and Dyscalculia. Recommended Intervention in Each Case

ADHD and Dyscalculia. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), often times have difficulty learning mathematics. In fact, it is estimated that out of every 10 children with ADHD, 3 or 4 also have dyscalculia.

ADHD and Dyscalculia
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What are ADHD and Dyscalculia?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is neurobiological in origin and affects 5-10% of the child population. A person with ADHD has differences in brain development and activity that result in difficulty maintaining voluntary attention to activities, both academic and every day, and a lack of impulse control. It is estimated that more than 80% of children will continue to have problems into adolescence and 30-65% into adulthood.

Dyscalculia is also a disorder of neurobiological origin, but characterized by difficulty in the correct acquisition of mathematical skills. This disorder is caused by a specific deficit in brain structures that support the representation and processing of numerical information.

What are the causes of mathematical difficulties in children with ADHD?

It is well known that executive functions such as working memory and attention are some of the main predictors of mathematical skills in children. We also know that children with ADHD are frequently impaired in these cognitive abilities. Therefore, it is not surprising that children with ADHD often have difficulty with mathematical tasks relative to children without ADHD.

In particular, these difficulties at the level of executive functions in children with ADHD can create problems such as:

  • Doing homework in a hurry.
  • Failure to memorise basic numerical facts due to lack of attention and memory.
  • Not easily incorporating new mathematical rules due to lack of flexibility and acting automatically and rigidly.
  • Losing part of the information of a problem due to difficulty with the working memory.
  • Have difficulty following the sequence of steps necessary for mathematical tasks.
  • Not seeing their own mistakes due to lack of self-control and lack of revision of answers.

In these cases we have just described, we speak of secondary dyscalculiai.e, difficulties in mathematics are a consequence of difficulty with attention and control. Impulse control difficulty, typical of children with ADHD, are not due to a specific deficit in the representation and processing of numerical information.

Comorbidity between ADHD and Dyscalculia

A different case is the comorbidity between ADHD and Dyscalculia. Comorbidity refers to the presentation in the same individual of two or more different disorders. So we are talking about children who have ADHD and also Dyscalculia. According to some authors, the comorbidity between dyscalculia and ADHD, which ranges between 30 and 42 %, is mainly explained by common genetic influences.

Why is it important to distinguish between secondary dyscalculia in children with ADHD and children with ADHD who also have dyscalculia? Because based on the type of diagnosis, different strategies will be chosen at the intervention level for the improvement of mathematical skills.

Intervention activities

Children with ADHD and Dyscalculia

When faced with a comorbidity between ADHD and dyscalculia, to support the improvement of mathematical skills, we have to provide training focused on deep understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures.

Children with ADHD and Difficulties in Math

In the case of secondary dyscalculia in children with ADHD, we need to work towards improving skills such as memory and attention with specific cognitive training programmes such as Smartick Brain.

Hiwet Costa
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