Dyscalculia: What is it and how does it impact children?

Dyscalculia is an innate neurological difficulty in learning and comprehending mathematics. It’s not as well known as or understood as Dyslexia, however it is thought to be just as common. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders defines Dyscalculia as a specific learning disorder with impairment in mathematics where deficits are evident in one or more of the following areas: difficulties with mathematical reasoning and difficulties mastering number sense, number facts or calculation.

Dyscalculia can impact children in different ways but typically there are some key indicators to look for. These include difficulties with the following:


· Learning to count

· Telling the time

· Learning times tables

· Recognising numbers

· Interpreting graphs

· Reading charts

· Recognising patterns in numbers

· Understanding mathematical operations such as subtraction and division

· Performing calculations

· Understanding abstract math concepts such as algebra and fractions

· Memory difficulties

· Visual-spatial difficulties


Dyscalculia can also have an emotional impact on children resulting in anxiety and low self-esteem. Dyscalculia means it is difficult for children to apply mathematical concepts to everyday life which can result in increased stress and reduced confidence. Children can have trouble with everyday tasks such as keeping track of time, gauging speed and distance, understanding measurement and counting money. Experts say it’s like being colour blind where instead of confusion with colour, a child cannot tell the difference between quantities.


An assessment with a qualified psychologist can identify if your child may have Dyscalculia. Butterfly Psychology for Kids offers comprehensive educational and psychological assessments to diagnose Dyscalculia. Assessments used include selected tests of mathematical abilities from the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-III). Testing for Dyscalculia will also examine cognitive abilities such as memory and visual-spatial skills with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V).


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