written by: Finn Orfano
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 9/11/2012
Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty related to mathematics and numbers in general. The disability has been associated with dyslexia and dyspraxia by research. The article discusses some tips that must be followed when dealing with such children.
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Dyscalculia sufferers would find it difficult to grasp and understand number concepts. If the child suffers from basic skills like reading numbers or counting, the child is likely to be suffering from dyscalculia.
Many teachers and parents associate dyscalculia with dislike towards math. However, they must understand that the disability is an extreme condition that does not allow the child to understand even basic concepts of mathematics. This issue is largely faced in arithmetic rather than other areas like geometry.
The main symptoms of such children are:
Difficulty with numbers in general.
Difficulty with math symbols.
Difficulty in giving directions.
Issues with Counting: Number sequence is possible to understand. However, if the sequence is rearranged, it becomes difficult for the child. Moreover, adding or subtracting is also difficult.
Calculations: Such children lack confidence and are not able to understand basic calculations.
Zero: Sufferers have issues in dealing with numbers that have a zero. For example, 10, 100, 1000, etc.
Money: Such children have problem in handling money.
Time Telling: Suffers cannot do basic day-to-day tasks like reading the time.
These symptoms can be seen by teachers or parents. If you feel your child may be suffering from dyscalculia, take him to your family physician. The physician would refer the child to a specialist. After conducting a variety of tests, the specialist would be able to determine with this disability exists or not in the child. The tests are carried out by a team of specialists.
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Tips on How to Deal with a Dyscalculic Child
In truth, there is absolutely no cure for dyscalculia. However, with proper intervention and support from teachers and parents, dyscalculic children can learn basic maths to function in the world.
The first and foremost thing to remember is that learning for such children needs to be done in a very structured way with specifically tailored mathematical learning methods. Moreover, adequate support is needed both at school and at home. Some tips for dealing with students are:
Real examples must be provided. For example, use physical items to teach addition and subtraction.
Break up problems into various stages and make sure the child understands a step before going on to the next one.
Link mathematics to their context of interest.
Practice makes a man perfect. Encourage the child to repeat tasks and problems and do so independently.
Encourage the child to deal with numbers and their explanations.
Keep challenging the child with new problems and procedures.
Play as many math games to review concepts and procedures. A popular game is Touch Math that uses multi-sensory approach to learn mathematics.
Opt for (Individualized Education Plan) IEP at school for the child. At school, a different method of classroom teaching must be adopted.
Appreciation and praise would build back the confidence that the child may have lost.
Never give up. Dealing with a child with dyscalculia would require immense patience and effort.