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Living with Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia affects more than a child’s ability to handle math class and homework. Math skills and concepts are used everywhere from the kitchen to the playground to the workplace.

Dyscalculia affects more than a child’s ability to handle math class and homework. Math skills and concepts are used everywhere from the kitchen to the playground to the workplace. It’s understandable to be concerned about the long-term impact of dyscalculia. But once a person’s weaknesses have been identified, one can find ways to work around them by building on the strengths. Here are some everyday skills and activities a child may find difficult:

  • Social skills: Failing repeatedly in math class can lead to the child to assume that failure is inevitable in other areas too. Low self-esteem can affect the child’s willingness to make new friends or participate in afterschool activities. The child might also avoid playing games and sports that involve math and keeping score.
  • Sense of direction: Your child might have trouble learning left from right. He may have trouble getting to places by reading maps or following directions. Some children with dyscalculia cannot picture things in their minds. The child may have trouble imagining how a building or other three-dimensional object would look if it was viewed from another angle. This will cause them difficulties with direction. At an older age, this will result in issues in driving.
  • Physical coordination: Dyscalculia can affect how the brain and eyes work together. So a child may have trouble judging distances between objects. The child may seem clumsier than other kids the same age.
  • Money management: Dyscalculia can make it difficult to stick to a budget, balance a checkbook and estimate costs. It can also make it hard to calculate a tip and count exact change.
  • Time management: Dyscalculia can affect the child’s ability to measure quantities, including units of time. The child may have trouble estimating how long a minute is or keeping track of how much time has passed. This can make it hard to stick to a schedule.
  • Other skills: A child may have trouble figuring out how much of an ingredient to use in a recipe, might have a hard time estimating how fast another car is moving or how far away it is.

    Source: UNESCO MGIEP,

    Myth #1: All children with dyscalculia have the same difficulties with math.

    Fact: Dyscalculia actually refers to a wide range of math issues, so your child’s trouble spots may be different from another child’s. For example, some children with dyscalculia have a hard time with number concepts. Others have difficulty with the kind of visual-spatial thinking that is needed for geometry. What most children with dyscalculia have in common, though, is challenges remembering basic math facts and completing math problems.

    Myth #2: Dyscalculia is another name for math anxiety.

    Fact: Dyscalculia and math anxiety are not the same thing. It’s understandable that people confuse the two, though. It is common for kids who struggle with math—like kids with dyscalculia—to become anxious about doing math homework or going to math class.

    Myth #3: Dyscalculia is basically dyslexia for math.

    Fact: Although dyscalculia is sometimes referred to as ‘math dyslexia’, that is just a nickname. Dyscalculia and dyslexia are separate conditions that may have some overlapping symptoms. Children dealing with both tend to have difficulty with language-based math issues, such as solving word problems and learning math vocabulary.

    Myth #4: Dyscalculia isn’t very common.

    Fact: Dyscalculia has not been studied as much as other conditions like dyslexia, but that does not mean it is uncommon. In fact, some researchers argue that dyscalculia is as common as dyslexia.

    Myth #5: Children with dyscalculia can’t learn math.

    Fact: Children with dyscalculia may have a harder time learning math as compared to other children, but that doesn’t mean they cannot learn it—or even excel at it. There are classroom accommodations a child’s teacher can use, as well as strategies and apps that can be tried at home to make learning math easier...and even fun! Certain types of assistive technologies can make learning math a more positive and successful experience for your child.