It been described as dyslexia with numbers, but Lancashire teacher Kath Graves argues there is not enough understanding of a condition which affects thousands of schoolchildren
Ask anyone if they’ve heard of dyslexia and the vast majority, if not all, will say they have.
Ask if they’ve heard of dyscalculia and I would like to bet the majority will say they haven’t.
When I trained to be a teacher, we had a fair amount of training on how to identify and help children with dyslexia. Dyscalculia was never mentioned.
During my teaching career, I saw many children displaying similar problems with learning maths that I could personally relate to.
I am dsycalculic, although never officially diagnosed. Compared to dyslexia, there has been very little research into this learning disability, and therefore not as much is known about the condition.
The Dyslexia Association has a section on their website which has a list of signs that can be indicators of dyscalculia. As with all learning disabilities, however, there is no definitive set of indicators – every child will have different elements and a lot more research needs to be done.
What is common, in my experience, is a very early realisation that they cannot learn and perform mathematical activities at the same speed and level as their peers.
Learning the basic building blocks of maths such as number bonds, doubling and halving and learning times tables are particularly problematic. This in turn, quickly leads to maths anxiety and can start as early as Year One.
The recent announcement by Schools Minister Nick Gibb that every child must learn their times tables by the age of nine is tragic news for dyscalculic children. Testing – especially timed tests are the worst nightmare of these children; to hear they will be facing new online tests to examine their ability breaks my heart.
Children with dyscalculia do not have the same understanding of number, they lack an innate ‘feel’ for numbers, symbols are often meaningless.
It is stated that between four and six per cent of the population have dyscalculia.