Monday, March 1, 2010


Dyscalculia Day

This day has been established by the Dyscalculia Forum to help raise awareness of dyscalculia worldwide.

This International forum was formed for dyscalculics, teachers, parents and others interested in dyscalculia .

For more information go to Facebook – Dyscalculia Day 2010


Very little is known about dyscalculia, for example how many people it affects,its causes or treatment.

People with dyscalculia experience great difficulty with the most basic aspects of numbers and arithmetic.

Estimates indicates that it affects somewhere between 3% to 6% of the population. These statistics refer to children who are ‘purely’ dyscalculic – i.e. they only have difficulties with maths but are ok in other areas.

In Turkey the level of mathematics studied in schools is high .The style of mathematics teaching is very traditional with an emphasis on multiple choice questions. Manipulatives are rarely used in Turkish classrooms to assist mathematical learning. Teachers generally have no understanding and no appreciation of the problems faced by students who have dyscalculia. There is non- existent remedial help for those struggling with mathematics. The only option for parents is to hire a private tutor to help their child.

In UK high school students can drop mathematics at high school and still progress to university, as long as they have obtain a GCSE grade in mathematics at c grade. In contrast, Turkish students must carry on studying mathematics throughout high school.

Mathematics Support Centres are to be found in the majority of UK higher education institutions. Also in many further education colleges there are numeracy tutors to help students with mathematics. In contrast in Turkey students have no such help or support.

What is Dyscalculia?

There is no accepted worldwide definition of dyscalculia at the present .

The UK government defines it like this:

Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence."

(DfES, Guidance to support pupils with dyslexia and dyscalculia, 0512/2001)

Respected experts in this field such as Butterworth, Sharma, Miles and Chinn suggest that the nature of dyscalculia rests with the inability to see, handle and understand numbers. The inability occurs at the concrete level but especially at the abstract level.

Dyscalculic children have problems in the following areas : :

Counting: Dyscalculic children can usually learn the sequence of counting words, but may have difficulty going back and forth, especially in twos and threes.

Calculations: Dyscalculic children find learning and recalling number facts difficult. They often lack confidence even when they produce the correct answer. They also fail to use rules and procedures to build on known facts. For example, they may know that 5+3=8, but not realise that, therefore, 3+5=8 or that 5+4=9.

Numbers with zeros: Dyscalculic children may find it difficult to grasp that the words ten, hundred and thousand have the same relationship to each other as the numerals 10, 100 and 1000.

Measures: Dyscalculic children often have difficulty with operations such as handling money or telling the time. They may also have problems with concepts such as speed (miles per hour) or temperature.

Direction/orientation: Dyscalculic children may have difficulty understanding spatial orientation (including left and right) causing difficulties in following directions or with map reading.

Does dyscalculia also affect people with dyslexia?

Research suggests that 40-50% of dyslexics show no signs of dyscalculia. They perform at least as well in maths as other children, with about 10% achieving at a higher level.

The remaining 50-60% do have difficulties with maths. Not surprisingly, difficulty in decoding written words can transfer across into a difficulty in decoding mathematical notation and symbols.

For some dyslexic pupils, however, difficulty with maths may in fact stem from problems with the language surrounding mathematical questions rather than with number concepts – e.g. their dyslexia may cause them to misunderstand the wording of a question.

In summary, dyscalculia and dyslexia occur both independently of each other and together.

(From : BDA website )

prepared by Gill Cawse – Specialist tutor for maths difficulties, Winchester College

If the answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’ then there is a likelihood that the pupil has dyscalculia

Has difficulty with the direct retrieval of number facts.

Makes counting errors

Reliance on immature strategies such as finger counting and makes errors with these

Slow speed of processing of numerical information

Inability to estimate

Has poor knowledge of the worth or value of a number

Has poor grasp of procedures and concepts

Poor sequential memory for numbers and operations

Cannot see patterns in numbers e.g. if 10,20,30,40 then 12, 22,32,42

Poor grasp of the 10s base of the number system

Has trouble moving up and down the numberline or number square

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