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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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Adult dyscalculia: mathematics difficulties

Adult dyscalculia: Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand and work with mathematical concepts. Although it is often diagnosed in childhood, its impact does not completely dissipate with time. Many adults face significant challenges in their daily lives owing to this condition. In this post, we will explore the challenges adults with dyscalculia face in their daily routines, the obstacles to obtaining an accurate diagnosis, and the disorder’s possible hereditary connection.

Adult dyscalculia
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Adult dyscalculia: What are the possible daily challenges?

Adult dyscalculia can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and the characteristics may vary from person to person. Some of the possible characteristics that may be observed in adults with dyscalculia include:

  • Difficulties with mental calculations: They may have trouble performing simple mental calculations or understanding basic mathematical concepts.
  • Problems with temporal and spatial organization: Dyscalculia can also affect the perception of time and space, which can lead to difficulties in planning and organization.
  • Difficulties with working memory: The ability to retain and manipulate information in the mind, especially in the context of mathematical calculations, can be challenging.
  • Low self-esteem in relation to mathematics: Past experiences of failure or consistent difficulties in mathematics may contribute to low self-esteem in this area.
  • Avoidance of activities involving mathematics: Adults may avoid situations requiring mathematical skills due to fear or anxiety associated with difficulties in this area.
  • Difficulties in the workplace: depending on the type of work, mathematical difficulties may affect performance in work tasks involving calculations or manipulation of numerical data.

For adults with dyscalculia, every day can become a silent battle against numbers. Seemingly simple tasks, such as handling money, calculating percentages or understanding instructions involving mathematical terms, can become a complex puzzle. Adult dyscalculia often manifests itself in difficulty with time organization, remembering important dates or understanding basic number patterns.

In the workplace, challenges can range from difficulties in roles that require frequent manipulation of numbers to problems understanding and following instructions involving mathematical calculations. This not only affects work efficiency, but can also affect self-esteem and confidence in the work environment.

Difficulties in the Diagnosis

Despite the prevalence of dyscalculia in adults, diagnosing dyscalculia is often a complicated task. In many cases, warning signs may go unnoticed or be mistakenly attributed to other problems. In addition, dyscalculia often coexists with other learning disorders, such as dyslexia, which further complicates the diagnostic process.

Adults with dyscalculia have sometimes developed compensatory strategies over the years to hide their challenges. They may rely heavily on calculators or avoid situations involving mathematics, making it difficult to identify the disorder. The lack of public awareness of adult dyscalculia also contributes to the lack of accurate diagnoses.

Adult dyscalculia: The hereditary nature of the condition

Dyscalculia, like many learning disorders, may have a hereditary component. If a parent or close relative has faced similar math challenges, there is a greater likelihood that dyscalculia will be present in later generations. In fact, studies suggest that certain genes may be related to the predisposition to learning disorders, including dyscalculia.

Understanding the heritability of dyscalculia may be key to identifying and addressing mathematical difficulties in future generations. If an adult is suspected of having dyscalculia, and his or her child has significant problems with mathematics, these may be due to a specific learning disorder. Recognizing the genetic component can lead to early identification with the help of tools such as the Smartick dyscalculia test and the implementation of specific strategies to improve math skills from an early age.


Coping with dyscalculia in adulthood can be a considerable challenge, but awareness and understanding are the first steps toward overcoming it. Seeking an accurate diagnosis, developing coping strategies and recognizing the hereditary component are crucial elements on the road to a more balanced and productive life for adults with dyscalculia.

It is essential that society and health professionals recognize adult dyscalculia as a significant reality. Through education, appropriate support and ongoing research, we can pave the way for those with dyscalculia to find effective ways to navigate a world that is often focused on numbers.

Hiwet Costa
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