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What Is It?


Dyscalculia causes people to have problems doing arithmetic and grasping mathematical concepts.  While many people have problems with math, a person with dyscalculia has a much more difficult time solving basic math problems than his or her peers.  Mathematics, like writing, forces a mixture of many different functions and abilities to succeed.  Several regions of the brain have to work well together form someone to succeed in math class.  For instance, a student must interpret complicated language, understand abstract concepts, sequence steps in the right order, pay close attention to detail and have a memory that works quickly and accurately.


Mathematics is also more complex than subjects such as English or social studies because, in math, you must understand basic concepts to move on to the new ones.  For this reason, children with dyscalculia feel like they have failed when they cannot move on to the next mathematical stage.  Unlike other subjects, math problems have only one right answer.  It is important that children experiencing great difficulties I math get immediate professional help so they will not fall behind their peers.

What Helps?


Having a student identify his/her strengths and weaknesses is the first step to getting help.  Following identification, parents, teacher and other educators can work together to establish strategies that will help the student learn math more effectively.  Help outside the classroom lets a student and tutor focus specifically on the difficulties that student is having, taking pressure off moving to new topics too quickly.  Repeated reinforcement and specific practice of straightforward ideas can make understanding easier.  Other strategies for inside and outside the classroom include:


· Use of graph paper for students who have difficulty organizing ideas on paper.


· Work on finding different ways to approach math fact; i.e., instead of just memorizing the multiplication tables, explaining that 8x2=16, so if 16 is doubled, 8x4 must=32.


· Practice estimating as a way to begin solving math problems.


· Introduce new skills beginning with concrete examples and later moving to more abstract applications.  


· For language difficulties, explain ideas and problems clearly and encourage students to ask questions as they work.


· Provide a place to work with few distractions and have pencils, erasers and other tools on hand as needed.


· Help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  Understanding how a person learns best is a big step in achieving academic success and confidence.



Use the Calculator


Calculator activities can be fun for children while requiring them to use their existing basic arithmetic skills and helping them to learn other mathematical concepts.  Calculators can be a valuable tool in improving your child’s mathematical knowledge in concept development, drill and practice, estimation and problem solving.


Problem-solving activities can be created anywhere. Using a restaurant menu, have your child total the cost of meals for four people and the number of items ordered.  Then have your child compute the average cost of each meal and the Average cost of the total number of items ordered.  Finally, have him or her determine the “tip” for excellent, fair and poor service.


Dyscalculia:

Math Disability