The numerous problems caused by dyscalculia do not have to mean only problems with learning math’s at school, but most importantly, yes. This specific difficulty hampers the normal life of adults, especially those who, during their school career, were not covered by pedagogical therapy appropriately adapted to their difficulties.
People with dyscalculia may experience difficult moments in everyday life, for example at the cash register, when you have to pay in cash. They never know what to answer, when asked, for example, how many meters are there to the nearest store, or when, for example, they should pour 200g of flour into the dough. Not to mention the torment of paying fees, dealing with offices or banks. They may be able to spend money easily (especially when they can pay with a card) because they never quite feel the value of money, it is an abstraction for them.
Persons affected by dyscalculia are not able to achieve proficiency in mathematical processes adequate to their developmental age, although their intelligence is normal, they are motivated to take up further, difficult challenges in the field of mathematics. Dyscalculia only occurs when the mathematical age is clearly below the age of mental development.
What is dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia belongs to a group of specific learning difficulties, as does dyslexia – difficulties in reading, dysgraphia – ugly, illegible handwriting and dysorthography – that is, problems with making numerous mistakes while writing. This term comes from Latin and means exactly – difficulties in counting. It is a disorder of mathematical abilities, the causes of which are to be found in genetic determinants, passed down from generation to generation, or inherited related to certain abnormalities in the functioning of parts of the brain.
Symptoms of dyscalculia
Dyscalculia is associated with dyslexia, and it is rarely a pure form of the disorder. Here are some typical and more sophisticated symptoms of school age dyscalculia, broken down into subgroups:
- Writing difficulties:
- The student has difficulty writing and remembering and applying mathematical symbols, confuses the sign “+, -, x:”, “<,>”, and so on, they are copied incorrectly and incorrectly copied from the blackboard,
- confuses the order of ones and the order of tens, he often uses them interchangeably with two-digit numbers, e.g. 14, writes as 41,
- high four-digit numbers are written as four separate numbers, e.g. 1234 – 1000, 200, 30.4 – divides the number into its component parts,
- There is no memory to remember and graphically write numbers, calculations or, for example, geometric figures, it is easier for a student to write a number with letters,
- Easily loses one digit and writes incorrectly, he was supposed to write 1009, but he “lost” one 0 and left, a completely different number 109.
- Difficulty in reading comprehension:
- is wrong when reading similar numbers, e.g. 3; 8 and 6; 9, has serious difficulties with understanding and interpreting mathematical language, while reading longer sentences, he forgets what it meant at the beginning,
- has difficulties in recognizing mathematical symbols, e.g. confuses “+” with “-” and “x” with “:”, has difficulty reading complicated long numbers, it is particularly difficult to read those with a zero in the middle,
- can misread numbers, swap the order of ones with the order of tens and the number e.g. 51, reads like 15,
- Great difficulty reading maps, charts, measurements and tables.
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- Problems with basic mathematical properties and number sequencing:
- The child has difficulties and always hesitates, e.g. whether 13 is before 14 or after 14,
- Sometimes, to deal with the simplest calculations, he has to count on his fingers,
- There are serious problems with learning the multiplication table,
- cannot count backwards, backwards,
- Big problems with counting by mind, the student after a while does not remember which number, e.g. he was supposed to add to which.
- Problem with understanding mathematical symbols and concepts:
- Problem with understanding words, concepts: “a lot, more, the most”,
- Difficulties with deciphering mathematical abbreviations, such as a meter is m, and a centimeter is cm.
- Difficulties with memorizing patterns,
- Problems with abstract thinking, thinking stiffness:
- Problems with moving from the level of concrete to the level of abstract thinking,
- Difficulty in keeping one line of thought, difficulty in taking the next step when solving text problems,
- Specific personality traits:
- Feeling anxious, severe stress at the very thought that there will be math,
- Absolute lack of confidence in their mathematical knowledge, “learned helplessness” during lessons and during homework, low self-esteem,
- once a student has a better day to learn mathematics – he gets into his head better, then he has a worse day again – he learns slower, he does not understand anything,
- Dyscalculia and the gray reality:
- In adulthood he has no head for dates, he often does not remember even when his relatives were born,
- Problems with reading the hours on the hand watch,
- Problems in the kitchen, e.g. when cooking with measuring, e.g. how many dag of flour should be poured into the dough and how to measure it, or what temperature should the oven be set to,
- Confusing numbers on the keyboard when dialing a phone number,
- Problems with the use of money, cash, payment card, paying bills, big problems with running your own business.
Dyscalculia – diagnosis:
Dyscalculia can be diagnosed in a regional psychological and pedagogical clinic free of charge. Dyscalculia does not always mean problems in learning mathematics, but also other important subjects, such as: physics, chemistry, geography, history, and music that is wherever numbers and counting occur. It can make everyday life quite difficult for a child, e.g. disturbances in spatial orientation, lack of temporal orientation, inability to read maps, poor, reduced motor and sports coordination, difficulties with remembering the rules of the game, difficulties in mastering the notes, problems with finding the right page in the book, trouble remembering the dance steps.
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It is important not to confuse dyscalculia with problems learning math. Large deficiencies, arrears, and negligence on the part of parents may give the child the same symptoms, but if such a person, after explaining exactly how, for example, to solve a given task, does it slower but correctly, it is simply educational neglect, not dyscalculia.
Suggestions for exercises to improve disturbed functions in dyscalculia:
- Writing figures, lines, numbers in the space, shooting “lazy eights”,
- Mapping figures from the picture,
- Repeating digital sequences,
- Mapping digits, symbols, and geometric figures from memory,
- Numerical shifts, e.g. enter 5-6 different digit configurations: 5 6 7.
A teacher who has a child in his / her class diagnosed with dyscalculia should:
Reduce the requirements as far as possible, adapting to the difficulties, to its deficits,
- Adjust the pace of work to its capabilities,
- Take short breaks during lessons so that the child can cool down for a while, relax, rest and calm down,
- Eliminate distracting and stressful stimuli,
- Let the child solve tasks in his own way,
- Combine new material and those already known, mastered,
Allow the student to count on their fingers, on particulars or on a calculator, as a last resort to use a ready multiplication table or a mathematical table with geometric formulas.
The worst thing is not to let your child do anything and increase their hatred for math and for themselves. Dyscalculia does not go through alone, you have to work with your child a lot and systematically, in an atmosphere of peace and understanding. The child should also participate in pedagogical therapy at school, be it in a psychological and pedagogical counseling center. The goal of therapy must be that the child is ready to deal with math as such. Of course, systematic cooperation in the field of child-parent-teacher is very important. Specific problems in learning do not have to mean that the child will be crossed out of school, he or she can be great in other areas than mathematics. Each child can be successful and be fulfilled, happy and valuable in the future. The life of a person affected by dyscalculia is not simple, the numbers are found everywhere in everyday life, they appear everywhere, on the street, in the shop, on TV, on the Internet. However, the most important thing is to catch such a child in advance, because diagnosis and therapy started early gives a good chance for a good life in the future. Even a single, decent discouragement to mathematics can result in disgust for less for the rest of your life.