Does Your Child Have Dyscalculia? 3 Surprising Signs

Education & Development Blog

You've probably heard of dyslexia, a developmental disorder that makes reading difficult. Less people have heard of dyscalculia, a similar developmental disorder that makes arithmetic difficult for some people. If your child is struggling with math in school, the problem may not lie in your child's abilities or their level of effort but in a disorder that can be addressed and managed with therapies and support services. How can you tell whether your child's math problems are caused by a developmental disorder? Take a look at some surprising signs of dyscalculia.

Your Child Avoids Certain Games

Does your child opt out of card games like War or Uno when a friend suggests them? Would they rather play by themselves than join the family playing a board game?

Card games often involve certain math skills, and board games requiring strategy use some of the same problem-solving skills utilized in math. These games can be challenging for children with dyscalculia, and if your child feels like they're not good at those games and that they're always going to lose, then they may avoid them. Children who simply dislike math or who are having problems mastering a specific concept are less likely to avoid fun activities that require math or problem-solving skills, but children with dyscalculia may be so discouraged by their math difficulties that they avoid even fun activities that involve math or strategizing.

Your Child Has Poor Handwriting

Is your child's handwriting markedly worse than the handwriting of other children their age, or worse than an older sibling's handwriting was at that age? If your child has poor handwriting and struggles with math, that could be a sign that they have dyscalculia.

Children who have dyscalculia often have delays in developing their fine motor skills or their visual-spatial awareness. This can make handwriting more difficult for them than it is for other kids their age. The messy handwriting can also make math even more difficult than it might otherwise be. If your child fails to line the numbers up properly when adding or subtracting, they're likely to get the answer wrong, even if they understand how to perform the operation.

Your Child Misses Real-Life Math Cues

One of the reasons math classes use word problems is to help children catch on to math cues that they'll use in their everyday lives. Many children pick these cues up without realizing it. For example, if there are three kids in the living room, and you ask your child to go to the kitchen and get two cookies for each child, most elementary-age children can figure out that they need to get six cookies, even if they don't realize that they used math to reach that conclusion.

However, a child with dyscalculia may not be able to determine the correct number of cookies because their brain fails to pick up the cue that they're supposed to perform a math operation. It's not that they're incapable of doing a simple problem; it's that they aren't connecting the words with the math operation.

Dyscalculia need not be debilitating. Once you know that your child has dyscalculia, there are many strategies that can be used at school or home to help your child master math. If you suspect that your child has dyscalculia, their doctor or your public school can help arrange an evaluation. The sooner you have a diagnosis, the sooner you can start helping your child succeed with math. 


2 December 2016

Discussing Child Development

Hello, my name is Melony. Welcome. I am here to talk to you about child development. As a young adult, I studied child development in my elective courses. I wanted to learn about the factors that help kids grow into functional adults. I studied all of the different ways this process can go wrong. Although I cannot use this info for my career, I am glad I studied this topic in great detail while in school. I will use this site to help others learn all they can about healthy child development. Please feel free to visit my site anytime to learn more.