What is Developmental Dyscalculia?
Developmental dyscalculia can be either genetic or environmental and even interaction of the two. It is a specific learning disability that affects the normal acquisition of arithmetic skills. It is equally common in boys and girls and impacts on 5-6% of the population.
Genetic causes include known genetic disorders such as Turner’s syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Velocardiofacial syndrome, Williams syndrome. In addition studies suggest that there are genes present in the general population which increase the risk of dyscalculia.
Known environmental causes include alcohol consumption during pregnancy and pre-term birth. Both of these can result in underdevelopment of the brain.
There is a common misconception that the brain cannot be changed. In fact, every time you learn a new piece of information or skill, your brain becomes modified. If you practice a new skill considerably your brain can show significant modification. We call this ability to change “plasticity”. The brain is at its most plastic during childhood, nonetheless, recent studies have shown that the adult brain has much more plasticity than previously thought.
Therefore, even though dyscalculia is related to brain function, there is no reason why that function cannot be changed. Experiences in the home (an environment which encourages attention to number), teaching in school, and intervention programmes can all impact on it. This principle of changing the brain to create stronger neurological links is why Dybuster developed Calcularis in collaboration with neuroscientists to help combat dyscalculia.