What Is Dyscalculia? Math Learning Disability Overview

Dyscalculia impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills. Learn more about how it affects children.

9/25/2021 1:00:00 PM

Dyscalculia impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills. Learn more about how it affects children.

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that makes math challenging to process and understand. Symptoms range from difficulty with counting and basic mental math to trouble with telling time and direction. Learn more about this math learning disability, including potential causes and treatments here.

Dyscalculia DiagnosisDyscalculia appears under the “specific learning disorder” (SLD) section in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5).10For an SLD diagnosis, an individual must meet these four criteria:Individuals with dyscalculia exhibit at least one of six outlined symptoms related to difficulties with learning and using academic skills. Difficulties with mastering number sense and mathematical reasoning are included in the list.

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The affected academic skills are below what is expected for the individual’s age, which also cause trouble with school, work, or daily life.The learning difficulties began in school, even if problems only became acute in adulthood.Other conditions and factors are ruled out, including intellectual disabilities and neurological disorder, psychosocial adversity, and lack of instruction.

Individuals whose learning difficulties are mostly math-based may be diagnosed with “SLD with impairment in mathematics,” an SLD subtype equivalent to dyscalculia.Diagnostic evaluations for dyscalculia are typically carried out by school psychologists and neuropsychologists, though child psychiatrists and school health services and staff may play a role in evaluation. Adults who suspect they have dyscalculia may be referred to a neuropsychologist by their primary care provider. headtopics.com

There is no single test for dyscalculia. Clinicians evaluate for the disorder by reviewing academic records and performance in standardized tests, asking about family history, and learning more about how the patient’s difficulties manifest in school, work, and everyday life. They may also administer diagnostic assessments that test strengths and weaknesses in foundational mathematical skills. Tools like the PAL-II Diagnostic Assessment (DA), the KeyMath-3 DA, and the WIATT-III are commonly used when evaluating for dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia Treatment and AccommodationsLike other learning disabilities, dyscalculia has no cure and cannot be treated with medication. By the time most individuals are diagnosed, they have a shaky math foundation. The goals of treatment, therefore, are to fill in as many gaps as possible and to develop coping mechanisms that can be used throughout life. This is typically done through special instruction, accommodations, and other interventions.

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