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Dyscalculia is a term used to describe difficulties with understanding numbers, remembering number facts and performing mathematical calculations. A formal diagnosis of dyscalculia is considered a subset of an overall difficulty with mathematics, when considered amongst a range of factors. Some children and young people will also experience difficulties with solving worded problems and this is not dyscalculia.

Children and young people with dyscalculia can display some of the following characteristics:

  • poor number identification and understanding (e.g., the 3 in the number 123 is worth less than the 3 in 32)
  • inconsistent recall of common number facts (e.g., 11 comes after 10, 3 + 7 = 10, 2 x 0 = 0)
  • slow recall of number facts and processes
  • confused processes when performing mathematical calculations (e.g., wrong calculation used, starting with the wrong column when working out questions)
  • forgetting the steps required to complete mathematical calculations.

Children and young people experiencing difficulty with mathematics in school and at home may be referred for formal assessment of their difficulties. In some cases, a formal diagnosis of dyscalculia may be mentioned in a report, while in other cases a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder with impairment in mathematics may be mentioned. Both of these terms describe difficulties in understanding numbers, remembering number facts and performing mathematical calculations.

How Can I Help my Child?

Children and young people with dyscalculia or difficulties with mathematics benefit from assistance with a trained specialist teacher to learn all of the numbers, understanding how our number system works, recall of basic facts, knowledge of the steps to perform mathematical calculations and have time to practise these skills. It is recommended to have your child’s eyesight tested before beginning any intervention to ensure they can see the numbers clearly.

At home you can support your child’s mathematics by:

  • Playing games with number cards and maths facts (familiar card games such as snap and memory are great);
  • Playing board games (rolling die, counting places on a board);
  • Using iPad apps with your child related to number facts; and
  • Assisting your child when completing mathematics homework.

How Can Learning Links Help?

Learning Links offers a range of services that can help children with dyscalculia.

  • Assessment – Learning Links’ Psychologists conduct assessments to evaluate learning and can make a formal diagnosis of dyscalculia.  Read more
  • Numeracy Support – Learning Links’ Specialist Educators provide individualised programs to support the development of mathematics skills using engaging resources and games.  Read more
  • Speech Pathology – Learning Links’ Speech Pathologists support children’s development of receptive language related to following directions and understanding the language of mathematics.  Read more
  • Occupational Therapy – Learning Links’ Occupational Therapists support children’s development of fine motor skills related to number formation, planning the page of working for mathematical calculations and hand movements for using a ruler and a calculator.  Read more
  • Psychological Therapy – Children with dyscalculia often experience low self-esteem and anxiety as a result of their experiences with reading. Learning Links’ Psychologists can support children and help with strategies and ways to cope.  Read more