Dyscalculia
 
 
Dyscalca...wha?

    Dyscalculia (aka acalculia) is defined as a specific learning difficulty affecting a person’s ability to understand and/or manipulate numbers. It’s actually an off-shoot from the more widely known dyslexia, involving language impairment.
    The idea is that for some people, its impossible to conceptualize numbers as abstract entities. Some individuals may even develop a phobia regarding utilization of mathematics in their everyday lives (e.g. worried about using an ATM for fear of not remembering PIN).
Common symptoms of dyscalculia include:
  1.  Confusing signs (+, -, /, *)
  2.  Reversing and/or transposing numbers
  3.  Reliance on counting strategies rather than “knowing”
  4.  Difficulty with mental arithmetic & measurements
  5.  Inability to grasp and remember math rules/formulas

You guessed it, I’ve got it...

    I’ve never formally been tested for dyscalculia as a learning disability, but I know it explains what I have to put up with. There’s more out there on the web on this topic than there ever used to be, but I figured I’d keep my 2 cents up posted anyhow...
    I remember first coming across the term dyscalculia and feeling relief in knowing that there were others out there that know just what it feels like to be continually confused by numbers.
    Certain things just boggle my mind, when I know they shouldn’t. On top of that, I make a great number of silly mistakes and very, very often. For instance, 0’s really confuse me. If I were asked to remember a number like 082 and recall it later on, there’s a 99.9% chance that I’ll tell you either 802 or 820. In my mind, I can visualize the number 082, but when it comes to either verbalizing/writing it, I scramble it up. This has to be the reason why I depend on notebooks and daily planners for everything.
    Another thing that stumps me is oral mathematics problems (even extremely easy ones). I just can’t conceptualize numbers in my mind -- giving me an oral math question has the same effect as talking in Chinese. But if the question is written, hooray! I now have a chance... probably won’t do much good, but a chance none the less. During tests it’s especially embarassing when afterwards I find out that I filled in the wrong box or miscopied the question down when working it out. These things are quite common for me -- I’ll think I’ve checked box #4 but when I get my results back, to my astonishment I’ll see I marked #3. Or I’ll double-check my working out several times and not SEE that I’ve done the whole thing using an incorrect term.
    I always worried in school, when I got a new math teacher that would begin their introduction with something along the lines of, "Math is a FUN subject, students. If you don't think it's fun, you're probably just not very good at it yet. But no worries, we'll soon change that before this semester is out!"...  Then that same teacher would zoom in on all of us who fitted that description. Sure, he would become daunted, and he would become disillusioned, but he would keep at it. He'd figure out which students were willing, and stick with them. I had a few teachers that did that with me...but they all got very frustrated. "We've been going over this since TIME BEGAN, Vicky. How come you just can't grasp it long enough to use it in your tests, and perhaps the test after that???" I couldn't answer him...too hard.
    Of course what I wanted to say though was, "Well, Sir, it's like this...I want to grasp it, truly I do, but I'm a realistic person, I don't see how I will ever understand math past fractions. But alright, I see no one will leave me alone until I do, so I'm prepared to give it my best to please everyone and get you all to leave me alone once you're convinced I've done what I have to. It's extremely hard to me to understand math, because it's so foreign to me. When you give me all your formulas, I have a hard enough time as it is to understand why you ENJOY IT so much, let alone master it myself. I give it my best shot, I study, I try to get it in my head what I need to do, and to REMEMBER it. And the odd thing is that I can understand each particular operation while being shown it. Yet something happens with that information when I file it for later use. Somehow, it all becomes scrambled and I get so confused trying to sort through how the operation should go. Instead of doing steps in a particular order, I will often for no reason at all, do them backwards. When I sit tests, or you give those terrible pop quizzes, my mind goes blank. Trying to extract the answer is like trying to pull teeth! You try to reason with me, you want me to pass your tests and try to make it easier for me. All the while though you've been drilling it into my head "just give it a go, Vicky, give it your best shot." So then what do you do?! You give us a MULTIPLE CHOICE test where you PENALIZE wrong answers! Are you really trying to help me or just make it more obvious how ho blatantly incompetent I am?"
    But his sweaty, beet red face with his brow in fixed annoyance...stopped me from telling him all that.
Causes of Anxiety
  1. 1.Entering your PIN at an ATM.
  2. 2.Security code doors.
  3. 3.Giving out your phone number or dialing a number from memory (even if you only heard it 5 seconds ago).
  4. 4.Calculating change.
  5. 5.Working out the exchange rate when shopping overseas.
  6. 6.Being confident you know how much an item costs when it’s % off regular.
  7. 7.Anything to do with large purchases or financial contracts.
  8. 8.Remembering dates.
  9. 9.Tests/exams/quizzes
  10. 10.Anything to do with fractions.
Community
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tips for Teachers
  1. Allow extra time to complete problems.
  2. Make sure the student comprehends the problem.
  3. Find your student’s learning style (visual, auditory or kinaesthetic).
  4. Encourage visualization of quantities involved.
  5. Positive reinforcement of non-standard methods to solve problems.
  6. Provide lots of examples, the more real real-life ones the better.
  7. Allow tons of scratch paper during exams.
  8. Show no pity, just support.
Resources