Hi dwdyscalculia! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your Instagram?
Hi! My name is Isabelle, I’m 20 years old and I work as a qualified freelance makeup artist in New Zealand. I was diagnosed with severe Dyscalculia (Acalculia) when I was around 11 years old. My Dyscalculia is not genetic, as I was born premature (25 weeks) and suffered a brain bleed, thus causing me to have Dyscalculia as a result. I was able to get specific tutoring for my Dyscalculia, in order to help me learn numeracy skills (this aided in me passing NCEA – similar to GCSE’s) Since being diagnosed, I have been a strong advocate for Dyscalculics.
I created my Instagram ‘Dancing with Dyscalculia’ when I was around 15 years old (also known as dwdyscalculia), to help educate and raise awareness of Dyscalculia. What better way to educate and raise awareness, create a discussion about certain topics in this day in age, than social media? I create and post textual descriptions with snippets of information about Dyscalculia, in order to help raise awareness. I will sometimes post questions relating to Dyscalculia and answer them. I also often answer questions relating to Dyscalculia in comments as well.
What made you create dwdyscalculia?
As I went further and further down the Dyscalculia rabbit hole, I began to realise that there was a lack of good information on Dyscalculia, a lot of the information available seemed very generic and offered little support. Growing up I learnt very quickly that there was a massive lack of knowledge in terms of knowing what Dyscalculia. None of my teachers, friends or extended family knew anything about it. Actually, virtually nobody seemed to have heard of it. I learnt that I had to be an advocate for myself and others with Dyscalculia. More ‘noise’ and education regarding Dyscalculia improves people’s understanding of it and how it can impact someone who has it.
When I created my Instagram account, I could see awareness pages for other learning impairments worldwide, but none at all for Dyscalculia. Especially none for Dyscalculia in New Zealand! I came up with the username ‘Dancing with Dyscalculia’ (shortened to dwdyscalculia) initially because I was heavily involved with performing arts growing up, and was interested in dance. I thought it flowed well. But now my take on it is metaphorical. Dancing through life with Dyscalculia. Persevering through life with Dyscalculia. Not letting it hold you back and finding a way through situations where Dyscalculia could potentially hinder you. Having Dyscalculia and dancing through life, experiencing personal success.
What currently stands in the way of dyscalculics?
Most people (including educators) have no idea what Dyscalculia is, and for those that have it, there are very few people trained to specifically help with it. I am so grateful that I was able to receive tutoring (from a person who specialises in helping those who have Dyscalculia. I cannot imagine my life without having that help. I remember the learning support head at my alma mater high school admitting to me at the time that my maths difficulty was the severest case they had ever experienced, they felt like it was completely over their heads and they had no idea how to help me. We desperately need educators who not only understand Dyscalculia but are able to teach maths to a person with it. This is what makes me want to grow awareness and understanding of the condition as current services are poorly informed and generally inadequate.
I think mental health can also take a beating with someone who has Dyscalculia. If there is someone who is reading this that has Dyscalculia, or perhaps has a loved one who has Dyscalculia, please know that it gets better. Keep on going. Keep on educating others, keep on sending those links to Wikipedia and various other sites about Dyscalculia to people who need to be informed. Your brain processes numeracy and spatial situations differently from the average brain. I remember in desperation as a child, asking my math tutor why I couldn’t learn maths. He responded by saying that I hadn’t been taught properly.
Keep on going.
What does the future hold for dyscalculics if dwdyscalculia was in charge?
More specialist support with learning maths for people who have Dyscalculia. What I have learnt is that there are very very very few people who truly understand how to teach people with Dyscalculia. I was incredibly fortunate that I had that available to me, but I know that there are many others worldwide who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to have that key support.