What is dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia: even the term sounds unfamiliar. Many people with dyscalculia may not know the condition exists. Instead they might just think they have difficulty with math, or that anything with numbers is a struggle for them. Those familiar with dyslexia and dysgraphia may never have heard of dyscalculia.

People with dyscalculia struggle with numbers and basic mathematical skills
People with dyscalculia struggle with numbers and basic mathematical skills.

So what is dyscalculia exactly? Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects around five percent of the population. People with dyscalculia may be intelligent and creative but struggle enormously with basic mathematical problems. During childhood, specific regions of the brain develop and become specialised in the processing of numbers and mathematical thinking. In children with dyscalculia, the development of these specialised brain functions lags behind that of their peers.

When children experience these difficulties with numbers they can develop feelings of anxiety and inferiority whenever faced with math and arithmetic problems. These feelings can persist into adulthood, meaning that dyscalculia can have long-term psychological effects on those who have it.

Compared to dyslexia or even dyspraxia, dyscalculia is less widely-known and there are fewer resources out there for those dealing with dyscalculia. A dyslexic can do a quick search of “famous dyslexics” and come up with a list of celebrities and famous historical figures who are or were dyslexic. Dyscalculics will have much greater trouble locating others who can relate to their experience but there are support communities and resources out there for those who have dyscalculia. This blog aims to be one of these.

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