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  Why is my child having a problem doing math?

Type of Special Need 

D y s c a l c u l i a...

School Term :(SLD - Specific Learning Disability

A very specific difficulty in mathematics, often with numeracy, but no accompanying difficulty with literacy. 

What to look for: pupils may have difficulty in remembering and carrying out sequenced instructions, they can confuse telephone numbers.  They might have problems with word sums or in problems following procedures in problem-solving.  They might have difficulty recognizing patterns or they might write numbers the wrong way around.  They sometimes muddle digits and operators and have poor estimation skills.  They may lack confidence and have low self-esteem during maths lessons and may work slower than others.

Teaching Strategies

People who can help: SENCO/Resource Teacher  

Dyscalculia is of a number of different types, each involving a specific type of problem in solving mathematical tasks. It corresponds in mathematics performance to dyslexia in the area of reading. The majority of children and adults with dyscalculia have it in a pure form in which both the ability to read and the ability to understand what is read are unaffected, although about 20–30 % with dyscalculia have a mixed form of it characterized by having difficulties both with reading and with math Their often requiring a long time to carry out even simple arithmetic tasks. They count on their fingers until far into the upper grades. Difficulties of this sort are termed automatization difficulties.

Children and adults with dyscalculia tend nevertheless to be of normal intelligence, but often present an uneven picture in their results on intelligence tests. Their problems reflect, not emotional problems but difficulties in connection with certain specific types of thought processes.

Not only automatization difficulties but also linguistic difficulties may be involved in dyscalculia. The latter can manifest themselves in difficulties in understanding numbers as concepts. Although possibly being of high intelligence, such a child may have only a limited understanding of either numbers as such or numerical symbols. Another form of dyscalculia involves planning difficulties that lead to the child’s failure to carry out computations effectively. Here the child has difficulties in following a clear strategy in solving arithmetic problems, losing track of where he/she is at, sticking to strategies that are dysfunctional and fail to work out, or giving up on strategies that are correct and becoming passive. Dyscalculia may also be based on problems in visual perception that lead to difficulties at tasks involving logical thinking as well as in carrying out computations. This is often encountered in children who have difficulties in learning to read an ordinary clock and understand how the position of the hands is to be interpreted.

Difficulties with mathematics generally are associated with the child’s having general problems in learning, also in areas other than mathematics, learning tending to take longer than is normally the case. A child of this sort is usually best helped by being allowed to work at a slow tempo and also by being given simplified learning material. On intelligence or aptitude tests, such children tend to score on the low side but to have results that are all at about the same level. There is thus a kind of consistency in their level of performance, also on a day-to-day basis. general consensus that these children simply need a bit longer to learn.


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