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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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How do I know if I have dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand and perform basic mathematical operations and to understand mathematical concepts and perform numerical calculations, even when taught repetitively. After reading this definition, you may ask yourself: How do I know if I have dyscalculia?How to know if I have dyscalculia

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A case: Javi and mathematics

“Javi has always had difficulty managing his money. For example, he has difficulty calculating his monthly budget, tracking his expenses, paying bills, and keeping track of his finances. In addition, he has difficulty performing everyday tasks that involve math, such as measuring ingredients when cooking, calculating change when shopping, or reading assembly instructions that involve measurements and angles. His son Adrian, who is in second grade, also has a lot of difficulty with math, and Javi has a hard time helping him with his homework.”

Many adults with math difficulties could be identified in this profile. But could Javi have dyscalculia? and if so, what to do?

Dyscalculia, an inherited disorder

The fact that Adrián, Javi’s son, also has a lot of difficulty with mathematics may give us a clue. In fact, dyscalculia may have a genetic predisposition, which means that there may be a greater likelihood that a person will develop this disorder if he or she has a family history of dyscalculia. However, a specific genetic cause for dyscalculia has not been established.

Evaluation of the genetic influence on dyscalculia has focused on the use of twin and family paradigms. Twin studies have compared the incidence of dyscalculia in identical twins (who share all of their genes) and fraternal twins (who share only half of their genes). In general, dyscalculia has been found to be more likely to occur in identical twins than in fraternal twins, suggesting that there is a genetic predisposition for this disorder.

How do I know if I have dyscalculia? Symptoms of dyscalculia in adults

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand and work with numbers and mathematics. It is an extremely heterogeneous learning disorder. Some signs of dyscalculia include:

  • Difficulty understanding basic math concepts such as counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
  • Difficulty remembering math facts, such as multiplication tables.
  • Difficulty applying math skills to real life situations.
  • Difficulty to perform calculations mentally.
  • Difficulty reading and writing numbers.
  • Difficulty understanding and working with graphs and mathematical diagrams.
  • Difficulty in understanding the concept of time and spatial relationships.

If you have some of these signs it does not necessarily mean that you have dyscalculia, but it could be an indication to seek help for further evaluation.


Dyscalculia is diagnosed after an evaluation by a mental health professional or a specialist in learning disorders. The assessment may include a review of the individual’s academic history and mathematics performance, as well as formal tests of mathematical skills and assessments of understanding of basic mathematical concepts. Tests related to attention, memory and other cognitive skills may also be performed to rule out other possible causes of difficulty in learning mathematics.

The diagnosis of dyscalculia in adults is more complex as it is often associated with children and may be underestimated or unrecognized in adults. How do I know if I have dyscalculia? There are specific neuropsychological tests and assessments for dyscalculia that can be performed on adults to determine if they have difficulties in the mathematical domain and if these difficulties are related to a learning disability.

What to do if I have doubts?

How do I know if I have dyscalculia? If you think you may have dyscalculia, it is best to talk to a mental health professional or learning disorders specialist who can evaluate your math skills and determine if you have this disorder. In the case of children, Smartick’s free dyscalculia test is very useful for early detection of the risk of dyscalculia.

Hiwet Costa
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