what is dyscalculia (mathematical difficulty)?


Dyscalculia (pronounced: Dis-cal-qu-lee-ah), is a specific learning difficulty in mathematics.

Dyscalculia was first discovered in 1919 by Salomon Henschen, a Swedish neurologist

Like dyslexia, dyscalculia can be caused by a visual perceptual deficit. Dyscalculia refers specifically to the inability to perform operations in mathematics or arithmetic. It could be described as an extreme difficulty with numbers.

Students with dyscalculia may have difficulties with the simplest of numerical tasks, calculations and learning number facts such as multiplication tables. They confuse larger numbers with smaller ones and have problems with simple counting. The student can often start answering a question and then divide instead of adding or multiply instead of taking away – literally forgetting what they are being asked to do.

It is very important to recognise dyscalculia as soon as possible, before it impacts on a child’s self esteem. Just as there is no single set of signs that characterise all dyslexics, there is no one cause of dyscalculia.

where does the word dyscalculia come from?

* ‘Dys’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘difficulty with, poor’.
* ‘Calculia’ means calculations.
* Hence, Dyscalculia means difficulty with calculations/mathematics.

what causes dyscalculia?

We still do not know very much about this condition, however, it is estimated *3 – 6 % of the population may have it. Around 60% of dyslexics have difficulties with dyscalculia. A lot of research is now taking place and it is hoped that over the next few years we will begin to understand this a little more.

These factors are often exacerbated by: poor processing, sequencing skills and poor-short-term memory problems. They are usually good at answering verbally but cannot tell you how they got the answer. Along with dyslexia and dysgraphia, the extent to which you can be affected by dyscalculia varies tremendously in each individual.

how can I help a student with dyscalculia?

You can help a student with dyscalculia by helping to develop his skills with sequencing, space organisation, deduction, directional awareness, timekeeping and strategy. The earlier it is started the better.

*(Badian, 1999; Gross-Tsur et al., 1996; Lewis et al., 1994).

‘dyslexia and other learning difficulties – a parent’s guide’ – book

My book: ‘Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties – A Parent’s Guide’ has been updated and re-released in January 2010. It contains extensive information on dyslexia, dysgraphia and other specific learning difficulties (SpLDs).

For a fuller description of ‘Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties – A Parent’s Guide’ please click here.


‘dyslexia and alternative therapies’ – book

My book: ‘Dyslexia and Alternative Therapies’ contains information on a wide range of alternative therapies and the way they can help people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other specific learning difficulties (SpLDs).

For a fuller description of ‘Dyslexia and Alternative Therapies
Please Click Here