Mark’s story of achievement from a diagnosis of dyscalculia and lack of support in school to becoming an advocate for adult education.
“This is a film about my journey in education. It connects my past to my present, from primary school to secondary school to third level and all the challenges I faced in the Irish education system without educational support and the difficulties of finding a job. My unhappiness at home and how I returned to education as an adult and became an ambassador for lifelong learning.”
About a decade ago, a groundbreaking study found that eye pupils detect more than just light. New research by the School of Psychology of the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Universities of Pisa and Florence has revealed that eye pupils can also detect quantity and perceive the number of objects in a person’s field of vision.
Ok, so maybe it’s a slow grower, but since we started this blog, there have been some leaps in research, and overall there is a little higher general awareness of dyscalculia. We thought we would give you a little rundown of the latest research related to dyscalculia over the last years, and perhaps this will help us see what the future may hold for dyscalculics the world over!
Back in 2018, some researchers at the University of Bonn were up to some, quite frankly, mind-boggling stuff. So we are born with the ability to count, and shortly after birth, babies can estimate the number of events and even perform simple calculations. But what exactly happens in the brain? And do we process abstract numbers differently from concrete quantities? To answer these questions, the researchers measured the reaction of individual nerve cells to quantities and demonstrated that certain nerve cells fired in response to very specific quantities. With the possibility of studying the individual nerve cells of the brain and the discovery that counting is done on such a scale, the researchers hope that their results will contribute to a better understanding of dyscalculia.
To make sense of my thoughts as a potentially dyscalculic adult – who faces specific challenges with logical thinking – I probably need to start with some context.
At primary school, long division took me years to master, and there were always strange little things I just didn’t get or couldn’t do what others found easy (despite me apparently starting off well ahead in intellectual maturity and reading age)… I also always lost at Monopoly! Nevertheless, apart from a few uncomfortable wobbles and blocks, I could keep up well into secondary school, even taking some exams early.
A guest article from Michelle Steiner – first published and edited on The Mighty
My math learning disability presents a variety of challenges, but the most difficult one is not being able to read the face of a clock. Many people don’t understand that I can’t do this. I have had generous people gift me with beautiful antique analogue clocks. But I am unable to read what time it is, and other than decoration, they serve little purpose for me.
I struggled with learning how to read a clock in elementary school. I can remember learning to tell time to the hour, but anything beyond that never made sense. I dreaded the worksheets that I had to tell what time it was, but I loved the colourful clock that you could move the handles.
Last week we spoke to Rose Lister, a primary school teacher who has struggled with numbers and was eventually diagnosed with dyscalculia at age 21. Rose tells us about the frustration of completing school education without a diagnosis – by telling her story, she hopes to bring more awareness to dyscalculia. Her story is very inspiring, and we hope that it can show you that dyscalculia doesn’t have to limit you in what you want to achieve in life.
In this part of the interview, we discussed the increased understanding of dyscalculia, her experience as a primary school teacher, and advice for those who have just been diagnosed and for parents with children struggling with numbers.
As a teacher, do you feel there has been an increase in understanding dyscalculia?
Defiantly since I was at school (I finished school in 2008) but I do believe there is still more understanding and research to be done and also awareness to be had. Everyone has heard of conditions such as dyslexia, but I still meet people who have never heard of dyscalculia.
What would you advise to someone who has just gotten their diagnosis?
Please believe in your own abilities and remind yourself that you are working as hard as you can and that perseverance is far more important than grades or exam results. If you are trying your best, then that is all that matters, and you should feel proud of yourself for showing such perseverance and ambition. You can do it! Also, never ever compare yourself to others. Focus on your skills and gifts and what you are capable of. Having a learning difficulty does not mean you are not clever or cannot do something. It just means you learn in a slightly different way and wouldn’t it be a boring world if we were all the same!
A new feature of the blog is a conversation series with people living with dyscalculia.
This week we spoke to Rose Lister, a primary school teacher who has struggled with numbers and was eventually diagnosed with dyscalculia at age 21. Rose tells us about the frustration of completing school education without a diagnosis – by telling her story, she hopes to bring more awareness to dyscalculia. Her story is very inspiring, and we hope that it can show you that dyscalculia doesn’t have to limit you in what you want to achieve in life.
In this part of the interview, we discussed her path to diagnosis, her time at school and the challenges that overcame to become a primary school teacher. The second part of the interview, covering her experience as a primary school teacher and advice to parents, will be published the following week!
A guest article from Elisheva Seeman the creator of the Dyscalculator.
I first became aware of Dyscalculia when I noticed that my friend couldn’t read numbers. I couldn’t understand why she would always ask the people around her to tell her what number was written down or why she would repeatedly ask what time someone said they were picking her up. When I realised how much Dyscalculia affected her daily and how much it caused her to struggle in many areas, I decided to find her an app or website to do the calculations for her. I figured that she was not the only one with this issue – someone must have developed a program to help with that.
I was wrong – all the apps I found when searching were geared toward teaching math instead of offering tools to help people. So, I created an app specifically to help her with numbers – and she loved it! She used it every day in different ways, building up her confidence and helping her become less reliant on other people.
We recently got introduced to Mark Daly and his inspirational story of discovering his dyscalculia and returning to education as an adult. Mark had always struggled with numbers but growing up in 1980s Ireland; there was little to no awareness of dyscalculia or how to address it. Incredibly 30 years ago, he discovered he had dyscalculia whilst on holiday in the USA, and now he has been facing challenges with this learning difference.
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