Written by Natalie Kerslake B.A (Hons), MA Ed SEND KS2 Teaching Assistant
A bit about me
My name is Natalie Kerslake B.A (Hons), MA Ed SEND, and I am a primary school teaching assistant, currently teaching in Year 6, with a particular interest in supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. In January 2016, I graduated with my MA in Education with a specialism in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at the University of Derby.
In my first teaching assistant post, I became motivated to complete my MA Ed research on dyscalculia after supporting a child with this. I did not know anything about dyscalculia at the time, and not much was available to support teachers and children in this area. I wanted to investigate the current situation of supporting children with dyscalculia in one particular primary school and see whether this was the case in another school.
It’s important to take signs of dyscalculia seriously. At the beginning of school, all children experience occasional difficulties with math. If these problems fail to dissipate with supported homework sessions or additional hours of practice, parents and teachers should be alert for potential dyscalculia.
The following signs can indicate the presence of dyscalculia:
…has anxiety about going to school
…has anxiety about taking tests
…has a negative perception of their intelligence
…expects to fail
…displays frustration and a reluctance to try (maths) in other subjects
Are you wondering why your child struggles with numbers and finds it challenging to solve seemingly simple tasks?
Dyscalculia is usually perceived as a specific learning difference in mathematics or, more appropriately, arithmetic. In isolated dyscalculia, there are no deficits in reading or writing. Dyscalculia is classified under WHO ICD-10, a classification system for diseases and mental disorders, as:
When you’re expecting a baby, it’s normal to spend hours on end thinking about how you will have to prepare your life and home for the arrival of a new family member. These anxieties are significantly amplified for expecting parents living with a disability. You may be keenly aware of adapting your life to your disability, but it’s not as noticeable when you consider how a brand new life fits in.
But don’t worry – every parent goes through this. Your disability offers a different challenge, but that doesn’t mean that preparing for parenthood has to be a logistical and emotional ordeal.
If your dyscalculia was undiagnosed until adulthood, or perhaps you’re still undiagnosed, you may have gravitated towards a career that doesn’t involve maths. But no matter how often you need to do equations or handle numbers daily, simple accommodations can help you perform your job to the best of your ability.
Developmental dyscalculia can be either genetic or environmental, even interaction of the two and is present from birth. It is a specific learning difference that affects the acquisition of arithmetic skills. It is equally common in boys and girls and impacts 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.
It is well known that schools tend to put mental arithmetic skills above the visual ones, as something like counting with your fingers is seen as a weakness in one’s calculation abilities. Educators and scientists have been tackling this obsolete cliché with research and scientific reports that seem to prove that visual aids are more than just helpful in the learning process.
Indeed, visual aids, such as the use of fingers, have a key role in children’s understanding of mathematics. This form of visualisation gives the abstract world of numbers a real side and establishes a connection to something tangible. This results in the creation connections from the prefrontal cortex (main memory / data centre) to the visual and motor cortex. Thus, when visual aid is used, thinking becomes outsourced to other brain areas generating a more efficient use the brain’s capacity.
However, these findings do not mean that you child will forever use their fingers to count. Over time a mental image of the fingers will become connected to the mental processes of counting, making the physical counting unnecessary. This is proven by numerous studies with primary school children that measured increased activity in the visual cortex while children were solving complex math tasks, even when they did not use their hands.
If you are not online, you can forget about keeping in touch with your grandchildren. That is just the reality we are living in. However, for seniors living with dyscalculia or dyslexia, using the internet can be incredibly stressful and even dangerous. To help you with this necessary form of communication, we have put together a comprehensive guide to make the experience less stressful and more fun.
How Dyscalculia and Dyslexia Affects People Later in Life
Most of the media attention on dyscalculia and dyslexia is focused on how these maladies affect youngsters. Yet, older adults also have trouble living a normal life and performing specific activities when they are afflicted by these disabilities. In turn, this can cause undue frustration and stress.
Seniors who acquire dyslexia and dyscalculia later in life often do so through trauma, dementia, stroke, or brain injury. For dementia and stroke, stress is typically a contributing factor. When stress is the source of dyslexia or dyscalculia, a dangerous cycle develops.
As dyscalculics and dyslexics put in extra effort to deal with numbers, math, and reading, they get frustrated and mentally-exhausted. This added stress can lead to other health issues or worsen the condition. Unfortunately, trying to use the internet is one of the more stressful experiences for seniors, especially with all of the scammers out there trying to prey on your inexperience. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to stay safe on the internet and avoid the added stress.
This week we have searched high and low for the five best videos on dyscalculia and here they are!
1. My world without numbers – Line Rothmann
At number one we have the fantastic Tedx Talk from Line Rothmann. She has dyscalculia and tells us of what is like and what quirky systems she developed to get on in a world that is largely based on numbers.
The article takes the reader through nine steps on what to do after a child has been diagnosed with dyscalculia. From exploring therapies to liaising with schools, to how to talk to the child itself, the article provides concrete tips on these and more issues.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.