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.


Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

So what is dyscalculia exactly? Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty 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 maths 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.

12 thoughts on “What Is Dyscalculia?

  • April 15, 2018 at 5:35 pm
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    I have suffered all my life with this, loosing jobs and being harshly judged. My anxiety makes it even worse. My son suffers as well. He is having trouble passing his math requirement in college. I am desperate to help him and myself.

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    • April 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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      I’m sad to hear this Diana, I only hope that the information on this blog can help you and your son. If you need any specific information or just a question please don’t hesitate in leaving me a message and i’ll try to help. 🙂

      Reply
      • October 5, 2019 at 6:33 am
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        Thank you for creating this blog!

        Reply
    • December 13, 2018 at 11:14 am
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      Hi Dyslexia Blogger, Thank you for your comment 🙂
      Sounds like a great idea, what do you have in mind?

      Reply
  • February 12, 2019 at 2:12 pm
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    Hello my daughters school has put her on the list to get tested for this as her maths tests are so poor for a year 10 student. She has struggled from p1 in primary school and never caught up. She lags behind every requirement of maths but has arisistic flair in all other subjects. She gets very anxious and stressed about it all.

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    • February 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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      Hi Jennifer,
      It sounds likely that your daughter has dyscalculia or at least some form of maths anxiety. May I suggest that you or your daughter joins our Dyscalculia Support Group on Facebook, its full of people that have struggled with dyscalculia and maths anxiety and their experience could be a great resource for you or your daughter to find the support needed.
      Also please do look through our blog and if you have any questions, you can contact us on here or through the facebook support group.

      Reply
  • April 22, 2020 at 1:22 pm
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    I’m very happy you have this blog! I was wondering if you know of any books for adults who have Dyscalculia (not for teachers or parents) because I’ve researched and I can’t find any. I’ve also contacted experts (years ago) and not one of them contacted me of course. :/

    I wish there was books for college bound kids who have Dyscalculia and for adult learners (past the usual college age) that want to go back to school. Things that talk about careers and adulting and how to do that with Dyscalculia. If not do you know anyone that would write books about it? If you could contact a Dyscalculia expert that would be great because I never had any luck!

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    • April 23, 2020 at 5:04 pm
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      Hi Ashley, great question! I haven’t seen any books unfortunately and I’ve been looking for one like this for some time as there are so many people looking for this sort of guidance. I saw that you have just become a member of The Dyscalculia Support Group I think this question is perfect for the group! Also, this group is mainly adults with dyscalculia sharing their tips and tricks dealing with the everyday. I will look into en expert that can help, but I think it would take a very special kind of expert to write this, one who lives with dyscalculia and fully understands it.

      Reply
  • September 21, 2021 at 1:19 pm
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    I have just come across your blog and I’m very pleased that I’ve found it!

    I suffer quite badly from dyscalculia and have done my whole life (I’m 26 now). I’ve only recently discovered that this is what I have and honestly, I have been left feeling somewhat angry in a way.

    I feel this way because I think back to the way I was treated in primary AND secondary school by my so called “teachers”. They went between having absolutely no interest in me whatsoever to deliberately singling me out in class, knowing fine well I wouldn’t be able to answer the sums on the board, and embarrass me in front of everyone. I was literally picked on by my teachers! As if being picked on by my “peers” wasn’t bad enough, the teachers started chiming in as well.

    Although I’m so glad that I now understand what the issue is with me. I’m not stupid, I’m dyscalculic – there’s a difference! After years of feeling worthless, stupid and embarrassed about having problems with maths/numbers – I hold my head up high and remind myself that this it is not my fault. If I need help I ask for it instead of sitting there suffering in silence, literally petrified to admit to anyone I didn’t understand the sum/problem in case they made fun of me.

    I aim to make more people aware of dyscalculia and hope that in the near future, more awareness is made in both primary and secondary schools. I don’t want anyone else to ever go through what I had to due to lack of awareness and downright ignorance from teachers who can’t be bothered to help their most vulnerable students!

    Reply
    • September 23, 2021 at 11:48 am
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      Thanks Leah! I completely understand your frustrations, but I’m also so happy that you will raise awareness about dyscalculia! 🙂

      Reply

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