Dyscalculia

About 3-15% of the population has some form of Dyscalculia.

It affects someone’s ability with the working memory of numbers.

Dyscalculia was first defined in 1974 by Czechoslovakian researcher Ladislav Kosc. The term ‘Dyscalculia’ typically refers to Developmental Dyscalculia. Acalculia, or Acquired Dyscalculia, presents similar symptoms, but is acquired later in life, typically from a stroke or head trauma. Developmental Dyscalculia, in comparison, typically presents itself during a child’s mathematical formative years.

The estimated number of people with Dyscalculia varies greatly from study to study (About Dyscalculia n.d.; Butterworth 2005; Verma 2016; Dyscalculia 2019), as the research on Dyscalculia is a good 30 years behind that of Dyslexia, so there is much we still don’t know (About Dyscalculia n.d.). The research that has been done focuses on Dyscalculia in children – there has been little work done to characterise the long term development of Dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia is equally likely to affect men and women (About Dyscalculia n.d.). It affects someone’s ability with working memory and numbers. It causes difficulty with counting, measuring quantity, sequential memory, ability to recognize patterns, time perception, telling time, sense of direction, and mental retrieval of mathematical facts and procedures (Dyscalculia 2017).

There is no agreed upon criteria for diagnosing Dyscalculia, however, there are agreed upon characteristics of Dyscalculia, and children with Dyscalculia will generally exhibit the following (Butterworth 2005, p.458-460):

  • Difficulty in learning and remembering arithmetic facts
  • Difficulty learning and remembering calculation procedures
  • Be less accurate in subtraction and multiplication, and significantly slower in addition, subtraction and multiplication
  • Depend on more ‘immature strategies’, such as counting on fingers
  • Display dissociative knowledge of facts and arithmetical procedures
  • Poor performance on tasks requiring an understanding on basic numeral concepts, including numerosity
  • Lack of an intuitive grasp of numbers

Dyscalculia falls into a group of ‘processing differences’, which are commonly referred to as Specific Learning Differences. This group also includes ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. (Beetham & Okhai 2017, p.58) These conditions can co-occur, meaning a person with Dyscalculia may display characteristics of one or more of these conditions. There have been no proven causal relationships between these disorders however. (Butterworth 2005, p.462)

Reference List

About Dyscalculia n.d., viewed 6 June 2019, <http://www.aboutdyscalculia.org/>.

Beetham, J & Okhai, L 2017, ‘Workplace Dyslexia & Specific Learning Difficulties – Productivity, Engagement and Well-Being’, Open Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 5, pp. 56-78.

Butterworth, B 2005, ‘Developmental Dyscalculia’ in J. I. D. Campbell, (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Cognition, pp. 455-467. Psychology Press, New York.

Dyscalculia 2017, 20 September 2017, Psychology Today, viewed 27 May 2019, <https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/conditions/dyscalculia/>.

Dyscalculia 2019, SPELD Qld Inc., viewed 27 May 2019, <https://www.speld.org.au/dyscalculia>.

Verma, S 2016, ‘Dyscalculia: when maths is a mystery’, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February, viewed 6 June 2019, <https://www.smh.com.au/education/dyscalculia-when-maths-is-a-mystery-20160226-gn4u85.html>.

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