Behavioural problems and learning disabilities
What is dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a disorder related to learning and applying arithmetic and mathematics. The literal meaning of the word is ‘not being able to calculate’. These learning difficulties in arithmetic and mathematics that people experience are not caused by a low level of intelligence.
Dyscalculia often comes to light in childhood and is a lifelong disorder. Adults can therefore have dyscalculia too. It is estimated that 3% to 4% of people have dyscalculia. Dyscalculia should not be confused with dyslexia. People with dyslexia are word-blind, i.e., they have trouble processing letters and sounds. So dyslexia is not the same has dyscalculia, which involves arithmetic and numbers.
What causes dyscalculia?
The cause of dyscalculia has not yet been established, but brain research shows that certain brain areas have something to do with it, although we don’t know exactly what. Dyscalculia often runs in families, so it most likely involves a hereditary factor.
Symptoms related to dyscalculia
The main symptom related to dyscalculia is trouble calculating. For most children, easy sums eventually become automatic. They know what three plus four is, for example, and can then quickly learn what thirteen plus four is by applying the previously stored information. This is more difficult for a child with dyscalculia who has to think longer to find the answer. So it takes more time to acquire arithmetic skills.
Characteristics of dyscalculia include:
- Continuing to ‘count on their fingers’ for a long time
- Often reversing numbers or putting them in the wrong place
- Having trouble completing the right steps to solve a sum
- Inability to solve a sum by recalling a similar sum that they solved previously
- Slower doing sums than other children.
- Having trouble telling time.
- Poor short-term memory in many cases
Children with learning disabilities such as dyscalculia often have a fear of failure, lack self-confidence and have behavioural problems. Dyscalculia can even lead to depression.
Dyscalculia is a difficult disorder that affects your everyday life, for instance because you have trouble counting money quickly at the checkout counter, or because you cannot read the clock properly or interpret the bus schedule posted at the bus stop.
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