9 Things You Need To Know About Dyscalculia

Otherwise known as "Math Dyslexia", Dyscalculia is a little known and oftentimes disputed learning disorder of which everyone should be more aware.

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1. Dyscalculia isn't just one but instead several learning disabilities.

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Dyscalculia categorizes "areas of weakness" as mathematical, spatial, or systematic learning disorders. Symptoms vary dramatically from person to person and even stages in life. Different people may also experience any one of or combination of these symptom groups.

2. It is currently estimated that between 3%-6% of the population is dyscalculic.

British Dyslexia Association / Via

Of those 3%-6%, 50%-60% of those have problems with mathematics. However, the remaining 40%-50% do not display any symptoms and may even have above average math grades.

In the cases of dyscalculic students excelling in math, research is still being done to determine whether they are (a) affected by spatial weaknesses rather than systematic or mathematical, or (b) if the processes they are following are simply mechanical and the student still lacking confidence in the answers even after multiple examples and correct solutions.

3. Because of all its different manifestations, testing and diagnosis can be difficult.


Dyscalculia's symptoms can be confused with dyslexia, ADHD, and memory disorders. Though the disorder is recognized by the National Center for Learning Disorders as well as the British Government, some schools and medical practitioners are only just beginning to accept its existence and effect on people worldwide.

4. Spatial dyscalculia = trouble with directions, distance, and time.

British Dyslexia Association / Via

A dyscalculic person with spatial weakness, for example, may not be able to tell between right and left, have navigational problems, be unable to judge distances between objects, have difficulty giving directions or reading maps, or always arrive early or late to appointments because of over or under-estimations of travel time.

5. Systematic dyscalculia = trouble with mathematical concepts

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A dyscalculic person with systematic weaknesses, meanwhile, may have trouble not simply with understanding mathematical concepts but also with remembering them. They often apply the wrong rules to problems, find new money systems and conversions difficult, cannot memorize mathematical rules or times tables, cannot read sheet music, and even have trouble reading analog clocks or using 24-hour-time.

6. Mathematical Dyscalculia = "Math Dyslexia"

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Finally, the reason why dyscalculia is often called "Math Dyslexia": mathematical weaknesses. This is a disorder when (more than having trouble with remembering or understanding concepts) the dyscalculic person may easily transpose, add, or omit numbers in even short sequences; they may be unable to play music to a tempo, manage finances, figure change, or may have difficulty with "mental math", counting, and reciting the alphabet or even the calendar.

7. Dyscalculia does NOT mean a person is dumb.

Dyscalculic Dolphin (Just the Dolphins) / Via

As with most learning disorders, dyscalculia does not mean one's IQ is lower. In fact, some studies suggest that those suffering from mathematical weaknesses may be above average in arts and social sciences.

8. With awareness, there is "sum" hope.

In recent years, dyslexia awareness has skyrocketed and schools have begun to respond with testing opportunities, special education programs, and skills advancement classes. Dyscalculia has been finding some acknowledgement, but not nearly enough. Yet.

Across the world, studies are being done to figure out the physical causes of dyscalculia and some treatments are already proving to be quite helpful. Tetris and other linear-based video games are being tested with some success to teach better spatial awareness. Visual-based mathematics programs and specialized software are also being developed to help student better imagine the concepts in their heads from a young age. Some schools are even beginning to allow special circumstances (i.e. additional test time, access to class notes, and etc.) to students with a recognized diagnosis of dyscalculia. For each school offering help, however, there are still others which are resisting acknowledgement of the disorder and its effects.

Like dyslexia before it, Dyscalculia education and screening needs to be made easily and profusely accessible because the more aware the school system can be made, the more bright, beautiful futures all dyscalculics everywhere have to look forward to.

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