US. Dept. Spec. Education & NCLD:

Saying dyslexia, dyscalculia, & dysgraphia in schools, an Interview with Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary of Special Education & Rehab Services (2015)

USA = Poor Math Skills

Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans by Neil Gabler - Article in The Atlantic

2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Report

52% of US 4th-graders were not proficient in Mathematics;

56% of US 8th-Graders were not proficient in Mathematics;

72% of US 12th-Graders were not proficient in Mathematics (2015, NEAP).

In 2015, the USA, ranked 38 out of 71 countries in Math Achievement on the Program for International Student Assessment. Trends in International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS).

In 2015, 29% of 15-year-olds in the United States of America, scored deficient (in the lowest 10%) on international tests of mathematical literacy- 3 in every 10 students were below proficiency Level 2- worse than half (35) of the 69 countries tested. Only 6%, scored above 90% proficiency (Level 5), worse than 36 countries.

Source: NCES, 2016, p.23.

Dyscalculia Signs

  • 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
  • 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


Dyscalculia is a math learning disorder that makes mathematical reasoning and computation difficult in spite of adequate education, average or greater intelligence, and proper motivation. It appears as poor memory for numbers, time, sequences, directions, layouts, and visual-spatial information, as well as a confounding inability to manage these things.

Dyscalculia is believed to affect 3% tp 7% to 26% of the population.

For people with dyscalculia, performing number related tasks produces mental confusion, anxiety, and distress. These individuals often display a lack of academic progress in mathematics, accompanied by average or advanced skills in speech, reading, writing, and other areas.

DSM-V: Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) are defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. "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."

157 Books on Dyscalculia

The Dyscalculia Book Shop

Untether by JT Metsdagh- learn how JT triumphed over severe dyslexia and major health threats to graduate college, climb mountains, and write a book!

Untether: Inspiration for Living Free and Strong, No Matter What the Challenge by JT Mestdagh (2019)

JT graduated college, wrote a book, and climbs mountains, in spite of severe dyslexia and serious health problems!

It Just Doesn't Add Up: Explaining Dyscalculia and Overcoming Number Problems for Children and Adults by Paul Moorcraft

Why is Math so Hard for Some Children a book by Daniel Berch and Michele Mazzocco

Limitless Mind by Jo Boaler

Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler

A Mind for Numbers: How to learn Math and Science, even if you flunked Algebra by Barbara Oakley.

Dyscalculia From Research to Education by Brian Butterworth (2018)

Mindshift: Break through barriers to learning and discover your hidden potential by Barbara Oakley.

Learning to Love Math by Judy Willis, Neuroscientist and Classroom Teacher

Dyscalculia Stories

Voices - Oct. 2018

Voices - Nov. 2018

Voices - Jan. 2019

Voices - Feb. 2019

Success Stories

Paul Moorcraft - Professor, Author, Producer

Barbara Oakley - Author, Professor

Benjamin Franklin

DYLAN LYNN - Statistician

Alex - Engineering Student

Dyscalculia in Children

Young children struggle with left and right, directionality, 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, organization, sequencing, procedures for arithmetic, place value, memory of addition and multiplication facts, memory of math rules, mental arithmetic, visualization, name-face memory, visual memory, and visual-spatial discrimination, interpretation, processing, and memory. They make unconscious errors with numbers and symbols when reading, listening, thinking (reasoning), copying, writing, and speaking. When doing math, they think slowly and carefully, and operate without confidence. When tasked in their deficit areas, children 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.

Dyscalculia in Adults


I'm a 21 yr-old female, university student of Biological Sciences, trying to pursue my dream of becoming a scientist, despite this hell that is dyscalculia - that doesn't even allow me to pay for my own meal at the canteen.


You're copying, "15.17" thinking or saying, "fifteen seventeen," but you write, "15.70". It sounds almost identical.

You can't seem to remember numbers, even important ones (multiplication tables, birthdays, dates, amounts).

When counting, you easily lose track, especially if distracted. You're overwhelmed by all of the directional sequences in long division, multiplication, arithemetic, and algebra. You struggle with visualizing, time, directions, layouts, sequences, scheduling, budgeting, and logistics.

Smart Thick Kid ~ Living with Dyscalculia by Loz Mac

Math Ed Improvement Courses

YouCubed @ Stanford University - Visual, Creative, Math Instruction by Dr. Jo Boaler

Mahesh Sharma's Language of Math Blog & Dyscalculia Workshops

Judy Willis, MD, MEd Neurologist & Teacher RAD Learning, Author of Learning to Love Math

Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Dr. Keith Devlin at Stanford University

Learning How to Learn by Dr. Barbra Oakley at University of California-San Diego [TedTalk]


  • CALCULATOR A calculator allows the student to focus on problem-solving. Calculation is hindered by poor and inconsistent retrieval of facts, and unconscious errors when thinking and writing. A calculator cannot fix unconscious errors in reading, writing, and reasoning (ex. number and sign mix-ups).
  • MONITOR It helps to have an external editor or monitor to catch and point out unconscious errors.
  • 1:1 PERFORMANCE Because of the need for a monitor, it is essential to have the student perform individually with the instructor, instead of in a group situation.
  • AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENTS Instead of traditional paper math tests, the dyscalculic should demonstrate their understanding by teaching the concepts adequately and successfully- in a demonstration that shows what, why, how, and when, with these forms of explanation: verbal (focus on key vocabulary), visual (physical, color, illustrations). Examples: video, illustrated study guide, book, show-and-tell.
  • REMOVE TIME CONSTRAINTS The dyscalculic is quickly overwhelmed by compounding demands. The awareness of time running out, adds additional stress, and further impairs functioning. Deficiencies that compound to impair performance: retrieval of learned facts and procedures; ability to apply learned facts and procedures to new situations; processing speed; working memory; visual-spatial-directional-sequential processing; procedural memory; and monitoring.
  • ACADEMIC ADJUSTMENTS When accommodations don't result in success, after earnest effort was demonstrated, an instructor may grade on work attempted, time on task, persistence, and attitude. Ultimately, the instructor should document the experience, citing the learning difficulties, student characteristics, interventions, and results and performance data; and then recommend a waiver of a requirement (and all prerequisites).

Common Errors

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). Knowing exactly which number to write, but writing a number not intended (ex. writing 1,000 instead of 100,000).