What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is defined as a failure to achieve in mathematics commensurate with chronological age, normal intelligence, and adequate instruction. It is marked by difficulties with visualization; visual-spatial perception, processing and discrimination; counting; pattern recognition; sequential memory; working-memory for numbers; retrieval of learned facts and procedures; directional confusion; quantitative processing speed; kinesthetic sequences; and perception of time.
The Dyscalculia Syndrome (1998) by Renee M. Newman
Terms for Dyscalculia
Calculation Disorder (1908)
Figure Blindness (1919)
Visual Figure Agnosia (1919) [ Types of Visual Agnosia, 2010]
Number Deafness (1925)
Acalculia secondary to visual-spatial dysfunction with malalignment of numbers and columns and a and acalculia only infrequently produced number deafness.
Anarithmetria, primary, entailing disruption of the computation process.
Specific Learning Disability / Disorder in Mathematics (SLD-Math)
Math Learning Disability / Disorder (MLD)
Developmental Dyscalculia (DD)
Math Dyslexia or Dyslexia in Math
Nonverbal Learning Disorder / Disability (NLD)
The Dyscalculia Syndrome, a paper by Renee M. Newman (1998)
Math Learning Disabilities, a paper by Kate Garnett, PhD (1998)
Manage It | Conquer It | Fix | To Do | Remediation | Accessing Math
Appreciating Math | Best Math Tools | GED Math
College & Dyscalculia
College & Dyscalculia | Academic Adjustments | Accommodations
Accommodations vs. Modifications | Course Waivers
Course Substitution and Waiver Guide | Advising
Algebra Paths | Books | Tools
Sample letter to DSS | News | College & Learning Disabilities
H.S. vs. College | Scholarships
Voices of Dyscalculia
Stories | Blog | Letter to My Math Teacher | Mentors
K-12 Schools and Dyscalculia
K-12 Schools | Response to Intervention vs. Special Education | Texas Dyscalculia Law
Definitions - Learning Disabilities and Dyscalculia
Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) in Mathematics, Reading, and Written Expression are defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. SLD is defined as a "Specific Learning Disorder-- with impairment in Mathematics (315.1), Reading (315.0), or Written Expression (315.2). SLD is "a neurodevelopmental disorder of biological origin manifested in learning difficulties and problems in acquiring academic skills markedly below age level and manifested in the early school years, lasting for at least 6 months, not attributed to intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, or neurological or motor disorders."
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines Specific Learning Disability (SLD) as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. See more at 34 CFR 300.8 (10).
Section 504 and ADAAA
Civil Rights for the Disabled (Learning and otherwise): According to the US Department of Education, the Federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The law states that "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
Dyscalculia + College and Disability Law
Postsecondary institutions are required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure they do not discriminate on the basis of disability. Students must voluntarily identify themselves as having a disability and furnish any documentation required. Failure to provide auxiliary aids to disabled students that results in a denial of a program benefit is discriminatory and prohibited. No aid or service will be used unless it is successful in equalizing the opportunity for a particular student with a disability to participate in the education program or activity. The nature of the disability and individual needs dictate appropriate academic adjustments.
Academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids and services, as well as modifications to academic requirements as necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity. Examples include priority registration; course substitution; reducing a course load; providing note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, TTY telephones; equipping school computers with screen-reading, voice recognition or other adaptive software or hardware.
In providing an academic adjustment, the school is not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements. Although the school may provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, the school does not have to make adjustments that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity or that would result in an undue financial or administrative burden.
Finally, the postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing. When requesting a specific academic adjustment, the school may offer an academic adjustment or offer an effective alternative.
The school may also conduct its own evaluation of a student's disability and needs at its own expense.
Math: In the case of documented math learning disability that substantially interferes with the ability to complete a required mathematics course, the college may elect to waive the basic college math requirement for liberal arts majors and substitute it with another course. For further guidance from the Association on Higher Education and Disability, see the Mathematics Course Waivers, Best Practices Presentation (2008) given by the director of Brigham Young University's Accessibility Center.
For more information on appropriate accommodations for learning disabilities in college, see The Association on Higher Education and Disability (www.ahead.org), and Yale University's Center for Dyslexia & Creativity's Policy and Advocacy section, specifically dyslexia.yale.edu/Policy_YCDC.html.
- Reading one number but saying a different one.
- Copying errors.
- Reading errors.
- Operational mix-ups (seeing the subtraction sign, but adding anyway).
- Reasoning errors (finding the difference between two digits, instead of subtracting integers).
- Knowing exactly which number to write, but writing a number not intended (ex. writing 1,000 instead of 100,000).
Dyscalculia in ChildrenYoung children struggle with:
- left and right
- counting reliably
- number-amount associations
- memory of numbers and quantitative information
- memory of instructions
- short-term memory
- working memory
- time awareness
- telling time
- time management, schedules
- procedures for arithmetic
- place value
- memory of addition and multiplication facts
- memory of math rules
- mental arithmetic
- name-face memory
- visual memory
- visual-spatial discrimination, interpretation, processing, and memory.
- unconscious errors with numbers and symbols when reading, listening, thinking (reasoning), copying, writing, and speaking.
- think slowly and carefully, and operate without confidence.
- When tasked in their deficit areas, may demonstrate agitation, distress, anxiety, anger, avoidance, and resistance.
- Children grow into dyscalculic adults who exhibit the same problems, but become better at hiding and managing their difficulties.
Signs of Dyscalculia in the Classroom
random number and symbol mixups when reading, thinking, copying, writing, speaking, remembering
unreliable memory of numbers, math facts, rules, and procedures
exerts inordinate effort, buts gets disappointing results
unable to do mental figuring
uses fingers or marks to calculate
quickly experiences frustration, tears, mind-freeze, distress, anxiety, panic, trauma, avoidance
struggles with handling money; cannot make change or figure tax, tips, discounts, conversions; poor $ planning, management; avoids cash
struggles with telling time, tracking and managing time, and punctuality
experiences directional confusion during math tasks, when navigating inside buildings and across town, and during physical sequences (dance steps, sports, playing music, playing games, opening a combination lock, following directions
can follow patterns and complete math work, but quickly forgets
operates from fleeting memory, but lacks deep understanding
reasons aloud and talks to themselves to keep ideas in mind
has difficulty imagining abstractions, quantities, layouts, clocks, faces, numbers , and figures
had difficulty processing more than 4 visual items
visual-spatial processing difficulties
experiences brain static with number lines, equations, large numbers, decimal numbers, graphs and coordinates, clocks, ten frames, abacuses, cuisenaire rods, unifix cubes, manipulatives without small recognizable patterns, keyboarding, learning to play an instrument, sight-reading music, cards and dominos with more than 5 dots or symbols
impaired feedback from fingers (finger sense) and motor-sequencing
insufficient working memory (needed for simultaneous processing, compounding task demands, retention of serial information (counting, listening to and following directions), keeping track during math work
imperfect sequential memory, especially when distracted, and beyond 5 items