How To Know If Your Child Is Suffering From Dyscalculia

Have you noticed that your child is finding it difficult coping with numbers? You may dismiss it as normal Math-related problems but it may be much more than that. It may be Dyscalculia.

By Ashwin Dewan

How To Know If Your Child Is Suffering From Dyscalculia

Maths! The very mention of the word sends shivers down the spine of some while making certain others’ eyes glitter. Of all the subjects in school – Maths, Science, English, Social Science and Language – many fear maths. But the subject isn’t as dreadful as many people say it is. And, children often struggle with math. 

However, if your child's struggles with math are of a high-level, it could call for an investigation. For, it might just be a case of dyscalculia. If you have been informed that your child has dyscalculia, or you suspect your child has it, you may struggle over ways to help him. 

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia, in general terms, is a brain-based condition that makes it extremely hard to make sense of numbers and math concepts.

Children suffering from this condition must work hard just to learn and memorise basic number facts. Often, the child may be doing well in other subjects but when it comes to math, it can be a struggle. These and other factors can lead to the rise of low self-esteem and anxiety in these children.

Let us look at the causes, symptoms, types and possible treatment of dyscalculia in children.

Causes:

There is no exact cause of dyscalculia that has been found but some causes include:

  • Genes and heredity: Dyscalculia is common in some families. Studies have found that a child with dyscalculia often has a parent or sibling with similar math issues.
  • Development of the brain: Dyscalculia may be related to the development of the brain. Certain differences in the surface area, thickness and volume of some parts of the brain may be behind dyscalculia.
  • Environment: Alcohol is prohibited during pregnancy. Dyscalculia is often linked to alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Other factors may be premature birth and low birth weight.

Symptoms:

Although, most children have problems when they study math but certain clues should not be ignored. The initial clue that a child has difficulty with math is if he or she struggles to learn how to count of has inadequate number sense. Normally, by first grade, children should be adept at counting without skipping numbers and also be able to differentiate which of two numbers is larger or smaller.

Children with dyscalculia are often inconsistent in their ability to answer math problems. They also lag their peers in dealing with math problems. Symptoms of dyscalculia include:

  1. Poor understanding of math signs and symbols (+, -, *).
  2. A difficulty with basic math tasks such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  3. A difficulty with timetables.
  4. Poor mental arithmetic skills.
  5. A difficulty with normal tasks like checking change.
  6. Inability to keep score during games.
  7. Have a poor sense of direction even with the help of a compass.

Note: In extreme cases, these symptoms may lead to a phobia of mathematics or mathematical devices.

Playing games with your child is an easy and fun way to get your child to love maths. Go through the below ClipBook to read a collection of articles that will help your child look at Math in a different light.

Types:

There are several types of dyscalculia in children. Some are verbal in nature while refer to problems in performing arithmetic operations.

  1. Qualitative: Failure to master the skills required for an operation.
  2. Intermediate: Inability to operate with number and symbols.
  3. Verbal: Problem in naming the number of things.
  4. Operational: Problem in performing arithmetic operations.
  5. Graphical: Problems in writing mathematical symbols and numerals.

Impact:

Dyscalculia affects more than your child’s ability to handle maths. Since math skills are in use every day in various places such as the kitchen to the playground to the workplace, a child with dyscalculia may suffer in many ways.

  • Social skills: Failing repeatedly in math class can affect your child’s self-esteem. They are unable to make new friends or participate in extra activities outside the school.
  • Sense of direction: A child with dyscalculia may have trouble with directions. He or she may have difficulty reading maps or following directions.
  • Physical co-ordination: Dyscalculia affects how the brain and eyes work together.
  • Money management: A child suffering from dyscalculia may find it difficult to balance a chequebook and estimate costs.

Treatment:

There is no cure or prevention for dyscalculia now. However, there are therapies, ways and treatment that could help your child.

  • To begin, help the child learn math by using various strategies. Identify and understand the areas of difficulty.
  • Understand how the child learns. If the child is a visual learner, using physical objects may help.
  • Know that math skills are inter-related. Begin by training the child in the most basic level of counting, adding, and subtracting. Once, when these skills have been mastered, the child can move on to multiplication and subtraction.
  • Educational therapy: Helps kids with different kinds of learning and attention issues develop strategies for working around these issues.
  • Speech therapy: For kids who have trouble reading and articulating the language of math.
  • Occupational therapy: For kids who have trouble with visual-spatial skills.
  • Play math-related games designed to help your child have fun and feel more comfortable with math.

Parents should know that it is never too late to overcome a learning difficulty, which includes dyscalculia. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to make a child with dyscalculia work through his challenges and succeed in math. 

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