What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a fairly rare learning disability that restricts a child from learning arithmetic and mathematics. Although most people consider arithmetic and mathematics to be the same discipline, they are actually two separate concepts that can both be challenging for a child with dyscalculia.

In children with dyscalculia, the arithmetic skills addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are often inconsistent. Your child may seem comfortable with arithmetic skills one day, and then be unable to perform them the next.

With mathematics, children with dyscalculia may have problems making sense of math rules or remembering math facts and formulas. It can cause difficulty counting, measuring, understanding money, remembering numbers and patterns, telling time, understanding time as a concept, and even your child’s sense of direction.

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How Do They Test for Dyscalculia?

As with many learning disorders, it is often a teacher or parent who first notices symptoms. These can include trouble with basic arithmetic, insistence on using fingers to add and subtract past the expected age, and an inability to perform mental math. Teachers can recommend your child for evaluation by the school’s child study team. You can also advocate for your child by going directly to your pediatrician with your concerns.

The child study team may recommend contacting a physician to rule out related disorders (like ADHD) first. Then a school psychologist or other learning specialist may administer specific math skills and general cognitive abilities tests, as well as review school records (including standardized tests) and family history.

Management: What You Can Do to Help Your Child

Although dyscalculia cannot be “cured”, getting diagnosed and treated early during childhood can greatly improve your child’s ability to manage the disability so it doesn’t impede his or her academic success.

School Accommodations:  A child with dyscalculia has the legal right to educational accommodations under a 504 Plan or, for children who qualify for special education services, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Below is a list of some classroom accommodations that help provide educational equity in the classroom:

  • one-on-one instruction that targets the repetitive practice of math tasks
  • reduced amounts of math homework
  • unlimited access to notes that contain common formulas for classwork, homework, and tests
  • using a calculator

Interventions at Home:

  • Understand Dyscalculia is a Disorder. Recognize that the difficulties associated with dyscalculia are unrelated to intelligence. A child with dyscalculia isn’t unintelligent or lazy, and they are trying the best they can.
  • Keep an Eye Out for Additional Issues. Be sure to contact your child’s physician to address any coexisting conditions that could hinder treatment for dyscalculia. For instance, it is possible for a child with dyscalculia to also suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, or act out due to frustration.
  • Hire a One-to-One Tutor. TestingMom.com offers experienced tutors and teachers who can meet with your child regularly to help with school assignments and provide specialized instruction and consistent practice to reinforce math facts and formulas that complement your child’s treatment plan. Small group classes taught by math specialists are also available through the website. Contact Testing Mom today! Call (813) 544-3833 or Email tutoring@testingmom.com.
  • Join TestingMom.com today and use our Skill Building Academy to help build your child’s math skills. As part of your membership, your child will have access to the top premium math learning programs such as Dreambox Learning, Mosaic by ACT,  MobyMax, Wootmath (fractions and decimals), ZapZap Math, Study Island, Reflex Math (math facts) and more!


Some information contained here was sourced from the Psychology Today website, as well as a journal article accessed from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website:

Psychology Today website (2022). Dyscalculia. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/dyscalculia

Haberstroh, Stefan and Gerd Schulte-Körne. “The Diagnosis and Treatment of Dyscalculia.” Deutsches Arzteblatt International, vol. 116, no. 7, Feb. 15, 2019, pp. 107-14. https://dx.doi.org/10.3238%2Farztebl.2019.0107. (Also accessible at the NCBI website as of February 25, 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440373/)

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