Dyscalculia is often mistakenly labelled as maths dyslexia, however, the term is defined as a condition that involves severe difficulties with mathematics. Both conditions create a learning barrier surrounding maths, but dyscalculia goes beyond the struggles that dyslexia brings.
Research has shown that despite dyslexia and dyscalculia being equally common, dyslexia is far more recognised and diagnosed. Inevitably leading to us asking ourselves the question of why:
Why is dyslexia far more recognised universally, academically and in terms of research?
Researchers have also discovered that 20% of the population suffer from ‘mathematics anxiety’. Having this anxiety doesn’t mean you are bad at maths, it’s the anxiety surrounding maths that induces the struggle. The idea is that maths is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and one is inevitably deemed better. Being wrong in maths isn’t anything to be ashamed of, in fact, it should be celebrated. Through our errors, we learn new discoveries are made and connections to other areas of maths are made. The majority of my mature students voiced their concerns about maths, these worries unwittingly cause by the stigma installed across generations. A stigma which I hope to see end.
I believe there is a blurred line between mathematics anxiety and dyscalculia, which is causing confusion. When a student reflects on their abilities, maybe it’s easier to process their struggles by assuming they are bad at maths. Awareness needs to be raised so people can correctly identify which category they fall in, starting with understanding the differences.
|Symptoms||Struggling with reading||Struggling to count|
|Difficulty in vocalising words||Difficulty with mental arithmetic|
|Problem with working memory||Problems with working memory|
|Poor spelling and grammar||Incapable of applying math skills to everyday life|
|Confusing the order of letter/numbers/symbols||Maths concepts not making sense (e.g. greater than)|
|Approaches to help||Extra time on tests||Extra time on numerical tests|
|Simplified instructions||Hands-on learning|
|Use of audiobooks and reading out loud||Maths games as much as possible|
|Pictures instead of words when possible||Teaching through muscle memory|
|Connecting letters to sounds||Specialised help|
Dyscalculia is not at all related to intelligence and can lead to many social and emotional impacts. Awareness and education on these issues are crucial to assisting those who are diagnosed. Often people are not even aware they may have either dyslexia or dyscalculia and deem themselves as unintelligent, avoiding any scenarios that involve difficulty rather than receiving the specialist help they need.
What do I do now?
If you think you or someone you know has dyscalculia then please visit the following for more information: https://www.dyslexia.uk.net/specific-learning-difficulties/dyscalculia/the-signs-of-dyscalculia/
For more information, check out Laura’s Instagram @statisticsstudy.