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 that 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 such uncomfortable wobbles and blocks, I was able to keep up well into secondary school, even taking a couple of 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 copy books. 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, that “Just because we are classmates doesn’t mean that we are friends”.
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 increase of the understanding of dyscalculia, her experience as a primary school teacher, 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 of understanding of 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 who are 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 teacher school and advice to parent, will be published the following week!
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 1980’s 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 his challenges with this learning difficulty.
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.
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.
This story tells us of a normal child with a mathematics disability familiar to thousands of children and their parents. It is not aimed to hurt or stigmatise anyone. One could write about dyslexia in almost the same way as dyscalculia is explained to you here.
Alexander looks forward to school
Alexander is a cheerful, bright child. After two years of nursery school he is happy to be able to go to the first lesson together with his classmates. At school he learns quickly. He likes gymnastics, reading and doing small experiments. Only calculating seems hard to him. Somehow the numbers just don‘t get in Alexander’s head. It does not seem logical to him that you have to write “23” and not “twenty-three”.
We have been fortunate to run several extremely informative guest posts here on the Dyscalculia Blog from educators and researchers on their work with dyscalculia. Today we would like to share a TEDx Talk we discovered on YouTube given by someone who is actually dyscalculic.
Line Rothman, a graduate of the creative business and design school Kaospilot in Aarhus, Denmark, takes her listeners on a tour of her “world without numbers” in a manner that is charming, touching, and enlightening all at once.