What is Dyscalculia? Identification and Treatment
In today’s post we will discuss dyscalculia, a learning disorder characterized by substantial difficulties in understanding and using mathematical concepts. Unlike dyslexia, which refers to reading difficulties, dyscalculia is related to numbers and mathematical skills in general.
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder characterized by significant difficulty in understanding and using mathematical concepts, as well as in performing numerical calculations and basic arithmetic operations.
Unlike poor math skills arising from a lack of interest or effort, dyscalculia is a disorder that affects the brain and can be inherited. People with dyscalculia may have difficulty performing simple tasks such as counting, measuring, identifying numbers, and understanding abstract mathematical concepts. Although dyscalculia is considered a learning disorder, it is not related to intelligence. In fact, people with dyscalculia may have outstanding abilities in other areas, such as creativity, communication, and the arts.
Dyscalculia can also coexist with other learning disorders, such as dyslexia and ADHD.
Dyscalculia can affect people of all ages and educational levels. Difficulties can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, depending on the age and developmental level of the individual.
Signs and Symptoms
In young children, dyscalculia can manifest as difficulty with counting, number recognition and understanding basic number relationships. For example, they may have trouble understanding that two objects of different sizes can have the same number of elements. They may also have difficulty remembering simple number sequences, such as numbers one through ten.
In older children and adults, dyscalculia can manifest as difficulty performing simple arithmetic calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They may also have trouble understanding more complex mathematical concepts such as geometry, trigonometry and algebra. Dyscalculia can significantly affect a person’s daily life, especially in situations involving the use of basic mathematical skills.
People with dyscalculia may have, among others, difficulty with:
- Managing money.
- Calculating change.
- Measuring food portions.
- Following instructions involving numbers.
- Understanding concepts of time, such as the calendar and duration.
How to Diagnose Dyscalculia
Having defined what dyscalculia is, it is important to talk about its diagnosis. This happens through a neuropsychological evaluation by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or neuropsychologist. The assessment will include a detailed assessment of mathematical skills, as well as an assessment of other related cognitive skills such as memory and attention. An academic performance assessment can also be conducted to compare the individual’s performance in mathematics with other areas.
Proper and early diagnosis can help ensure that the necessary services and support are received to help the individual overcome the difficulties he or she is experiencing in mathematics. Smartick’s free dyscalculia test is very useful for the early detection of the risk of dyscalculia.
Although dyscalculia can have a significant impact on a person’s life, there are strategies and tools that can help improve dyscalculia.
Intervention for dyscalculia varies according to the individual needs of each person. Some general strategies that can be used to help people with dyscalculia include:
- Teaching math skills visually. For some people with dyscalculia, pictures and diagrams can help them understand abstract mathematical concepts.
- Adopting a multisensory approach to teaching math skills. Using various senses, such as touch (manipulatives), sight (pictures and diagrams), and speech (verbal instructions), to teach math skills can help improve comprehension and retention.
- Provide individualized support. Individualized support can be helpful in tailoring teaching and activities to the specific needs of each individual.
- Use of assistive technology, such as calculators and software programs designed specifically for the development of math skills. The Smartick Method is an online tool that proposes activities that can be very helpful for students with dyscalculia.
- Teach self-regulation strategies: such as self-assessment and self-monitoring, which can help people with dyscalculia identify and overcome the difficulties they experience in mathematics.
Once we know what dyscalculia is, it is important that intervention is tailored to the specific needs of each individual with dyscalculia and that a multidisciplinary approach is used, that involves mental health professionals, educators, and other professionals as needed. With the right support, people with dyscalculia can learn to overcome the difficulties they face with mathematics and achieve academic and personal success.