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.
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 is a guest article from Special Education Teacher Monise Seward, you can find out more about her work on her website – http://www.moniseseward.com/
For the last 8 months, my IG and Twitter posts have focused on two main goals; find (a) Dyscalculia and Dyslexia training; and (b) Math Apps and/or curriculum designed with my students’ needs in mind. Both proved to be challenging and time-consuming endeavours, eventually I found one.
Dyscalculia is the Learning Disability you’ve probably never heard of, despite the fact that 5-10% of the population has it. Based on the challenges non-identified students experience, I believe there are more kids (and adults) with Dyscalculia. We simply characterize their struggles as ‘Math anxiety’; at least, in this country. Based on conversations had with U.S. teachers, few are aware of the existence of Dyscalculia. They are unable to identify the characteristics exhibited by students who may have it. Compounded by a lack of training on Dyscalculia, many teachers adhere to a pacing guide that does not allow time for remediation or accommodations.
Most children find mathematics interesting and to encourage their interest is simpler than you think, as mathematics is a big part of everyday life. In this article, we are offering you some ideas, how to create a playful link between mathematics and daily routine.
The word “dyscalculia” is a tad unwieldy. It’s difficult to pronounce and plenty of people have never come across the term and don’t really know what it means.
But plenty of people have come across dyscalculia itself; they just know it under a different name. For our first time readers, dyscalculia is a learning difference that affects the ability to do math functions. (Learn more by reading What is dyscalculia? on our blog.)
What are the words we use to refer to dyscalculia? Well, some people know dyscalculia as “dyslexia with numbers” or “math dyslexia”. They know that it’s not just a matter of being “bad at math”. Dyscalculics process numbers differently than people without dyscalculia. As most children develop number skills they automate certain math tasks so that they can focus on more advanced ones. Dyscalculics don’t do this, which slows down any problems they need to solve that involve numbers.
Dyscalculia affects around 5% of children, a smaller proportion than those affected by dyslexia (the rate of occurrence for dyslexia in the United States is approximately 15%). This has resulted in dyscalculia remaining relatively unknown; many people are not even familiar with the term.
What effect could this have on children with dyscalculia? Imagine struggling every day at school with number problems that your peers master far more quickly than you do. Your teacher is beginning to lose patience with you and your parents think you are just not trying hard enough. They don´t understand that you are trying hard every day, but even basic arithmetic concepts make no sense to you. You are called lazy or stupid or both.
As the condition is rarer than dyslexia, dyscalculia is less present when it comes to information and resources on websites and blogs. Dyslexics, for example, can find extensive lists of famous people who have or were reported to have had dyslexia. Dyscalculics are left more on their own when looking for such sources of encouragement and inspiration.