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Dyscalculia. Dyslexia Teaching Assistant Course December 2010. Is dyscalculia ‘dyslexia with maths’?. There are many reasons why a person may be bad at Maths. There will not be an instant or simple cure because there is no one reason

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Dyslexia Teaching Assistant Course

December 2010

Is dyscalculia dyslexia with maths

Is dyscalculia ‘dyslexia with maths’?

  • There are many reasons why a person may be bad at Maths.

  • There will not be an instant or simple cure because there is no one reason

  • Many people fail with Maths and not all will be dyscalculic

What is dyscalculia

What is Dyscalculia?

  • Developmental Dyscalculia was first recognised by Dept for education and Skills 2001 and defined as

    ‘a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method they may do so mechanically and without confidence.’

Dyslexia and dyscalculia

Dyslexia and Dyscalculia

There is a growing acceptance within the research that there are some pupils who present:

  • Dyslexic characteristics

  • Dyscalculic characteristics

  • Aspects of both conditions

    And there are pupils who

  • Appear to have aspects of both but are actually suffering from the side effects of Dyslexia rather than ‘pure’ dyscalculia

What distinguishes dyscalculia from just problems with maths

What distinguishes dyscalculia from just problems with Maths?

  • It all depends on the definition!

  • It depends on the perseverance of the difficulty –like all skills if you stop practising then you lose skills and how many of us practice Maths?

  • Therefore having a difficulty with maths should not automatically earn you earn the label ‘dyscalculic’


How do I recognise a child who has Dyscalculia?What are the symptoms and how does this differ from Dyslexia with numbers?

  • As a basic indicator, the child will be performing below teacher’s expectations with no obvious reason such as illness

  • This underachievement may manifest itself in specifics such as knowing the value of numbers, realising 9 is 1 less that 10

  • They may have no understanding of why or what the result means in a sum

  • Do not be surprised that those who have difficulties in decoding and understanding written words and learning patterns involving symbols also experience in learning facts, symbols which are used in Mathematics

The language of maths

The Language of Maths

  • Problems with Maths often show in Year 3 or 4 .One reason for this is that most of the work done in the early years is oral and only when they have to write down their methods that problems appear.

Dyscalculic pupils may

Dyscalculic pupils may:

  • Have sound technical reading skills but fail to understand the mathematical language

  • Difficulty linking mathematical words to numerals

  • Difficulty transferring from the concrete to abstract thinking

  • Difficulty understanding mathematical concepts

  • Difficulty choosing the correct strategies to solve word problems

  • Fails to remember the sequence of calculations in multi-step word problem

  • Difficulty linking the Maths terms to their abbreviations

  • Forget the formula

  • Unable to read the time

  • Have trouble recognising symbols and abbreviations

  • Difficulty interpreting Data patterns

  • Difficulty with mathematical language of money

Dyscalculic pupils may1

Dyscalculic pupils may:

  • Find remembering Maths rules and formulae difficult

  • Find sequencing the order and the value of numbers difficult

  • Can have difficulty tracking up and down the number line

  • Are inconsistent from day to day in what they know and can do

  • Are confused when to use basic symbols

  • Are not confident and avoid estimating and checking their answers

  • Have learning difficulty learning times tables and not able to achieve automatic recall of table facts

  • Forget how to round up and down with regard to place value

  • May forget the properties of shape

Dyscalculic pupils

Dyscalculic pupils:

  • Are worried that they work more slowly and incorrectly

  • Lack confidence – even when they produce the correct answer

  • Will adopt avoidance strategies

  • Often develop ’learned helplessness’ strategies

  • Dislike whole group interactive sessions

Ok i m dyscalculic so what

Ok, I’m dyscalculic . So what?

A few golden rules

  • Don’t create anxiety

  • Experiencing success reduces anxiety

  • Experiencing failure increases anxiety

  • Understand your pupils as individuals

  • ‘Teach more than one way to do things’ rule

  • Remember where each topic leads mathematically

  • Understanding is a more robust outcome than just recall

  • Try to understand errors ….don’t settle for ‘wrong’

  • Prevention is better than cure

  • all the above rules have exceptions

Mathematics assessment example of pupil questionnaire

Mathematics Assessment Example of pupil questionnaire

Question Response Comment/ strategy

  • count on in ones from 1

  • count back in ones from 20

  • count on in ones from 7

  • count back in ones from 17

  • Count on in tens from 0

  • Count back in tens from 100

  • Count on in twos from 0

  • Count back in twos from 20

  • Count the beans (up to at least 20)

    Throw 10 beans.

  • How many red?How many white?How many altogether?Which colour has more beans?How do you know?Which colour has fewer beans?How do you know?


Be cautious in

labelling children as


Pinpoint the difficulty and use multisensory approaches to teach and overlearn mathematical concepts

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