What is dyscalculia and what are the signs?
Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability in math. Kids with dyscalculia may have difficulty understanding number-related concepts or using symbols or functions needed for success in mathematics.
Dyscalculia can cause different types of math difficulties. So symptoms may vary from child to child. Observing your child and taking notes to share with teachers and doctors is a good way to find the best strategies and supports for your child.
Dyscalculia often looks different at different ages. It tends to become more apparent as kids get older. But symptoms can appear as early as preschool. Here’s what to look for:
Has trouble learning to count and skips over numbers long after kids the same age can remember numbers in the right order.Struggles to recognize patterns, such as smallest to largest or tallest to shortest.Has trouble recognizing number symbols (knowing that “7” means seven).Doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of counting. For example, when asked for five blocks, she just hands you an armful, rather than counting them out.
Has difficulty learning and recalling basic math facts, such as 2 + 4 = 6.Struggles to identify +, ‒ and other signs, and to use them correctly.May still use fingers to count instead of using more advanced strategies, like mental math.Struggles to understand words related to math, such as greater than and less than.Has trouble with visual-spatial representations of numbers, such as number lines.
Has difficulty understanding place value.Has trouble writing numerals clearly or putting them in the correct column.Has trouble with fractions and with measuring things, like ingredients in a simple recipe.Struggles to keep score in sports games.
Struggles to apply math concepts to money, including estimating the total cost, making exact change and figuring out a tip.Has a hard time grasping information shown on graphs or charts.Has difficulty measuring things like ingredients in a simple recipe or liquids in a bottle.Has trouble finding different approaches to the same math problem.
Dyscalculia can create challenges in more areas than just learning. These include social interactions and time management.