Does your child struggle with math? It might be Dyscalculia

Does your child struggle with math? It might be Dyscalculia

Is your kid at his wit's end whenever he tries to solve a math problem? Does he mix his numbers up? Maybe it's more than just difficulty in math. It might be a learning disability called dyscalculia that impairs learning and understanding math.

Is your child struggling with math? The solution may not just be spending more time with him over the weekends or asking a tutor to help. He may have a learning disability that's specific to math.

Here's all you need to know about dyscalculia symptoms to get your child the help he needs.


Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty that affects a person’s ability to understand and/or manipulate numbers and mathematical symbols.

Dyscalculia Symptoms

Dyscalculia symptoms present themselves in many ways but common signs include:

  • Difficulty learning numbers and recognizing numbers (younger kids)
  • Difficulty solving math problems
  • Confusing mathematical signs and the variable ‘x’
  • Difficulty with everyday tasks like checking change and reading analogue clocks
  • Having trouble differentiating between left and right
  • Inability to read a sequence of numbers
  • Inability to differentiate between numbers (for example 12 and 21)
  • Difficulty counting backwards
  • Has trouble estimating
  • Trouble recalling rote learning (skip counting, for example) even if practiced
  • Difficulty solving math calculations
  • Forgets learned procedures, especially more complex ones such as long division
  • Exhibits anxiety when faced with math

Here is a video to learn more about dyscalculia symptoms.

Continue reading to learn about causes, risk factors, complications and tests for dyscalculia

Causes and Risk Factors

Research on identifying exact causes of dyscalculia is still in its infancy. However, there have been some studies that show a link between the disorder and how the following items below affect the part of the brain that processes math:

  • Low birth rate
  • Turner's syndrome - A genetic condition that affects missing. Because of missing or incomplete chromosomes, a person with the syndrome experiences developmental problems, heart problems, learning disabilities and social adjustment issues
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome - A condition caused when a pregnant mom drinks alcohol. This leads to problems in the child mental and physical development

It is also possible to develop the learning disability after a brain injury.


As in other learning disabilities, a child must be supported emotionally to combat against:

  • Anxiety
  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem

Tests and Diagnosis

Because the causes of dyscalculia are still unknown, diagnosis depends on the effects of dyscalculia symptoms.

This means that a specialist will look into why a child is struggling in math. Such reasons may be: poor foundation in math and presence of disorders such as anxiety, attention or even mental retardation.

Continue reading to learn how to combat dyscalculia symptoms

Treatments and Drugs

There no drugs prescribed to a child with dyscalculia. However, since the learning disability usually occurs with other disorders or conditions, such as ADHD, depression or anxiety, a doctor may prescribe medication to help treat these or their symptoms.

Interventions are designed to help improve skills of children who have dyscalculia:

  • Educational therapy - to give tools on how to address issues brought on by dyscalculia
  • Speech therapy - to help improve reading and speaking skills related to math
  • Occupational therapy - to help deal with spatial issues, which some kids with dyscalculia have
  • Counseling - to help with frustrations or anxieties caused by the learning disability

Continue reading to learn about how parents can address dyscalculia symptoms through support and activities

Support at Home

Fortunately like all learning difficulties, dyscalculia symptoms can be improved with patience, repetition and specialized help. Here are some strategies that you can incorporate at home to help your child with dyscalculia.

  • Use any visual information that may be provided (picture, chart, graph) or make your own
  • Since math is essentially a form of language, which uses numbers instead of words, communicate frequently and clearly with your child on what is required when working on a mathematical problem
  • Get your child to draw a picture to help understand the problem
  • Celebrate small accomplishments, especially since these are big mental challenges for your child to have overcome
  • Spend extra time with children in memorizing maths facts. You can consider using mnemonics or even music or rhyme to help with the memorizing
  • Consider going to a dyscalculia specialist who can teach your child specific strategies to cope with the learning difficulty


Playing math games is another great way to help a child improve on dyscalculia symptoms outside the school setting. Here are types of games you can play at home:

  • Board games, such as Snakes and Ladders, help a child match dots on a die and count how many spaces to move correctly
  • Dominoes and card games. Ask him to match sets and numbers without him feeling like he is doing school work
  • Spatial strategy games such as Battleship, chess or checkers
  • Strategy games that require organizing and re-organizing pieces. Play card games such as Uno
  • Games that require managing resources such as Monopoly.

The most important thing to remember is to never make or let your child feel stupid. After all, this condition does not mean your child can’t do maths, it just means he has to learn it a different way. Don’t get disheartened but get creative in the way you teach your child those basic mathematical concepts.

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