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I used to take it personally when my beloved would be constantly late. As in, CONSTANTLY. Or when seemed as if he’d just forget about me. There’s always something, like when he would spend thirty minutes longer working on his latest track when he said he’d be ready in five. Or when he’d miscalculate how much something would cost and end up paying far more than we’d agreed because he couldn’t be bothered doing the sums. At least that’s how I felt!

what is dyscalculia

What is Dyscalculia?

And so when we realized he is one of the 4-6% of people who suffer from Dyscalculia it was, strangely enough, a relief, exciting even! Finally! Everything made sense. All those little (and big) frustrations fit snugly into place like a new jigsaw – it was immensely satisfying.

Dyscalculia is a learning disorder in which numbers, formulas, shapes, spatial awareness just don’t make sense. It’s not easy to diagnose, even though it can be present from birth. Most people don’t even know there’s such a thing and think those who have it are just slow to learn.

There was relief when we found out my beloved suffers from Dyscalculia, but there was also some sadness. Infuriation was felt. If it had been spotted earlier he could have avoided years of anxiety as well as derision. Not being good at math from any level can be daunting. It affects the person’s time keeping, map reading … it’s quite the list, actually. He is a textbook case – it just wasn’t spotted.

Might You Have Dyscalculia?

The incidence of Dyscalculia is about as high as Dyslexia (4-6%), but I bet you hear about that more often? Dyslexia better understood and better resourced. And so parents, teachers, wives who are psychologists (ahem…) often miss the signs.

Questions You Can Answer to Determine If You Have Dyscalculia

Here are some questions you might try to ask yourself to help you determine whether or not you need a dyscalculia assessment. And then when you’re through, read through the questions again with your kids in mind :

  • Are you often late?
  • Do you freeze when asked a maths related question or to make a calculation?
  • Do you dread questions at work that will involve numbers ?
  • Do you find spreadsheets challenging?
  • Do you overspend?
  • Are you or have you been told that you are poor at guessing speed of traffic and other moving objects?
  • Have you been told you drive too fast or too slow?
  • Might you be poor at estimating distance between your car and cars in front or behind you?
  • Do you find the phrases “less than” and “more than” confusing sometimes?
  • Do you experience difficulty with analogue clocks and watches?
  • Do you get lost easily?
  • Do you lose things things easily?
  • Have you difficulty remembering names?
  • Difficulty keeping score at games ?
  • Do you need to write down phone numbers, dates, measurements immediately – to avoid misremembering them?
  • Have you poor co-ordination and possibly a poor dancer – even if otherwise musically gifted?
  • As a child, were some sports too difficult to enjoy?
  • Are you poor at planning of times when cooking?

Now, I know most of you reading this don’t know my husband, but for those of you that do … ya …

(And yes, he knows I’m writing this and has probably even made editing suggestions. He’s very good with words, he lectures in Music Technology (!?!) and has his own music blog. I’m not trying to get divorced here…)

Is It Related to Dyslexia?

difference between dyslexia and dyscalculia

Physiologically, it looks like no. It’s a different condition from dyslexia – although some refer to it at dyslexia for numbers. A brand new research published by French scientists suggests that in fact the two conditions could not be farther apart (Fascinating and worth a read when you’re done here).

Dyscalculia often co-occurs with dyslexia, but most people with dyscalculia show no signs of dyslexia. Other conditions like dyspraxia can be observed in the same person too. You might also query ADHD, anxiety or depression. But if you think about it, those could be regarded as perfectly normal responses to what can be quite a debilitating condition given our maths and numbers friendly society.

Does your outlook of things change if you’re suddenly aware of this information? How does it make you feel? Are more or less confused?

Will Medication Help?

There is no medicating this condition but there absolutely is help out there. If you have a pill happy medical practitioner encouraging medication for your child please, I beg you, get an educational psychologist’s assessment first.

You may find that your child’s anxiety, depression or rage is simply their human response to feeling different, less able or less in general. The frustration that kids with dyslexia experience is enormous. It affects many aspects in life including:

  • play
  • visual concepts
  • hand-eye coordination
  • number concepts
  • memory
  • all the things they will see their peers get better and better at every day

This might put them off group games and result in them being teased or bullied.

Some adults who don’t understand what’s happening can unwittingly reinforce the “you are less than” by being impatient. Making comparisons, taking things personally, making things personal and so on.

So, Adult or Child, What Can You Do?

There are helpful sources you might want to seek help from:

  • Registered educational psychologist
  • This is their job and they will have specific ideas around play and how to teach your child to work with abstract mathematical ideas in fun, safe ways.

  • Speech therapist
  • The language of maths can be difficult for people with dyscalculia to articulate and speech therapy in conjunction with educational work may help.

  • Occupational therapist
  • This can help with visual-spatial relations and coordination work if needed.

  • Psychological therapist or psychotherapist
  • Whatever age we are, a diagnosis always brings with it feelings that are difficult to manage. Kids might feel different inferior, stupid and other core self-esteem stuff. For a late diagnosed adult, there may be rage, grief, sadness. All normal, I assure you.

Testing Your Possibility of Dyscalculia

If you’re reading this and thinking about the possibilities for you or someone you know and love, here is one free online test to try out. After that, you could perhaps give this a shot. They look at different aspects and yield very interesting results.  It’s not a medical diagnostic tool, but it is interesting and might give you some clues.

Just to let you know – hubby and I took those tests and got similar results. The big difference was in our reaction times. This is because people with dyscalculia often adapt and find new ways to problem solve. It’s really quite interesting – give it a go!

Thanks for reading and see you next month!