Why is Dyscalculia not more widely understood?

By Katie Reeves

You have most probably heard of Dyslexia – you might know someone that is Dyslexic or you might even suffer from it yourself. You have possibly also heard of Dyspraxia (a chronic neurological disorder). However, what you may not be familiar with is their mathematical cousin: Dyscalculia.

There are lots of types of learning difficulties and life long conditions that can seriously affect a person’s everyday life. So what is Dyscalculia and why do we not hear about it more often?

The clue is in the name – the ‘calc’ part refers to a person’s mathematical ability. Where Dyslexia is associated with the brain having trouble processing words, spellings and sounds, Dyscalculia makes it difficult for sufferers to make sense of mathematical concepts easily.

How do you know if you’ve got it?

Sufferers will tell you that what it isn’t is so called ‘Dyslexia with maths’. Those who suffer with Dyscalculia experience the following typical symptoms:

Difficulty understanding mathematical concepts;
Struggling to recall mathematical facts easily;
Trouble with mental arithmetic;
Struggling when applying maths in everyday life situations;
Avoiding situations or becoming anxious when having to deal with maths.

How does it affect your life?

Dyscalculia can affect people in various ways: we are confronted with many situations in everyday life that require a certain level of understanding of mathematical ideas. People with the disorder can tend to avoid these situations which can often then manifest into some level of anxiety. It can be incredibly frustrating and often sufferers do not even know that they have the condition.

Why isn’t it as well known?

Put simply: Dyscalculia just hasn’t had the amount of research into it as its more well known cousins. It is for this reason that there is no defined set list of symptoms and no actual test that can act as a diagnostic tool. However, research into the condition is steadily growing. Some research has even shown that it often co-exists with Dyslexia and other related disorders, such as ADHD, but is just not picked up on as easily.

Due to the lack of research into Dyscalculia, it’s not really known how many people suffer from it. Current evidence would suggest something like 5 percent of the population are affected; whereas some studies suggest that it is more like a quarter of the population in the UK.

Useful Links

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with any of the disorders mentioned, have a look at some of the following links:

The British Dyslexia Association: http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/dyscalculia
NHS Website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia/symptoms/

The Dyslexia Association: http://www.dyslexia.uk.net/specific-learning-difficulties/dyscalculia/the-signs-of-dyscalculia/

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