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

    1. Calculation Disorder (1908)

    2. Figure Blindness (1919)

    3. Visual Figure Agnosia (1919) [ Types of Visual Agnosia, 2010]

    4. Acalculia (1925)

    5. Figure Agraphia

    6. Number Deafness (1925)

    7. Number Paraphasia

    8. Number Agraphia

    9. Number Alexia

    10. Acalculia secondary to visual-spatial dysfunction with malalignment of numbers and columns and a and acalculia only infrequently produced number deafness.

    11. Anarithmetria, primary, entailing disruption of the computation process.

    12. Specific Learning Disability / Disorder in Mathematics (SLD-Math)

    13. Math Learning Disability / Disorder (MLD)

    14. Developmental Dyscalculia (DD)

    15. Gerstmann's Syndrome

    16. Math Dyslexia or Dyslexia in Math

    17. Math Anxiety

    18. Numerical Impairment

    19. Number Agnosia

    20. Nonverbal Learning Disorder / Disability (NLD)

About Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia Diagnosis

Dyscalculia Remediation

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.

Dyscalculic Errors

  1. Reading one number but saying a different one.
  2. Copying errors.
  3. Reading errors.
  4. Operational mix-ups (seeing the subtraction sign, but adding anyway).
  5. Reasoning errors (finding the difference between two digits, instead of subtracting integers).
  6. Knowing exactly which number to write, but writing a number not intended (ex. writing 1,000 instead of 100,000).

Dyscalculia in Children

Young children struggle with:
  1. left and right
  2. directionality
  3. counting reliably
  4. number-amount associations
  5. memory of numbers and quantitative information
  6. memory of instructions
  7. short-term memory
  8. working memory
  9. time awareness
  10. telling time
  11. time management, schedules
  12. organization
  13. sequencing
  14. procedures for arithmetic
  15. place value
  16. memory of addition and multiplication facts
  17. memory of math rules
  18. mental arithmetic
  19. calculation
  20. visualization
  21. name-face memory
  22. visual memory
  23. visual-spatial discrimination, interpretation, processing, and memory.
  24. unconscious errors with numbers and symbols when reading, listening, thinking (reasoning), copying, writing, and speaking.
  25. think slowly and carefully, and operate without confidence.
  26. When tasked in their deficit areas, may demonstrate agitation, distress, anxiety, anger, avoidance, and resistance.
  27. 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