Nobody really discusses educational-associated anxiety. This is separate from my more general anxiety. My mother would ask or try to ask me how my was school today and just did not want to talk about it. There were no school counsellors when I went to school. The secondary school I attended was academically very strict. We were there to open our books face the front of the class, and shut up.
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.
It’s the 1980s. I am sitting at a desk in primary school. It’s senior infants. Although I was an easy-going kid, I would get frustrated that I could not do maths and got upset about that.
There were five of us at the desk. The teacher is handing out copybooks. we were doing maths work. She asked us who had finished the and they all put up their hands, and then she asked who had not finished the work, and I put up my hand. The teacher said that they would wait until Mark is finished.
It took me some time to finish the work, and the rest of the class sat there and waited until I was finished. We were all getting ready to go home when one of my classmates turned to me and said, “I know you are not very good at maths Mark, but If I am late for football practice, I won’t forgive you”. I said, “I thought we were friends,” and he replied, “Just because we are classmates doesn’t mean that we are friends”.
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 few weeks back we were asked through Dyscalculia Blog about online support groups for adults with dyscalculia. I found a great group on Facebook that could possibly help, but this was not its main focus. So we decided to set up our own Facebook group, where we can support each other, ask questions, post helpful resources and talk about all things dyscalculia whether it is about your child or yourself!
Dyscalculia can affect anyone and this is a great starting point as a lot of people are discovering that they have dyscalculia late in life and they realise all the struggles it caused them. They are unsure how to tackle these difficulties and it can be hard to find useful information, but now we can help each other using this Dyscalculia Support Group as a tool.
Last week we were in Manchester at Improving Lives: Autism and Learning Difficulties, a conference by Open Forum Events. It was a true eye-opener and gave us a true understanding of current thinking on the topics from a huge list of expert speakers who have an incredible amount of first-hand experience and knowledge. Not only were there many professionals at the event, but people also shared their amazing and inspiring success stories that showed us how it can be made possible and what needs to be done for a better future of neurodiversity. In this article we have highlighted some of the talks from the event, it was difficult to choose, as the day was crammed with incredible presentations.
While some dyscalculics receive the support and intervention they need from their teachers and therapists, others struggle with their schools’ lack of resources or awareness. In the latter case, parents of dyscalculic children may consider homeschooling if this is a legal option where they live.
Homeschooling is a challenge and a commitment, but for some families, it offers an alternative way to educate their children when more traditional schooling methods are failing. The main drive for homeschooling parents across the board remains to offer their children the best learning experience they can provide.
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