Submitted by: Haleema Abdul Hayee
Government College University, Lahore
“Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts. Individuals with this type of Learning Disability may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or may have trouble with counting”.
Learning disabilities in math vary greatly depending on the child’s other strengths and weaknesses. A child’s ability to do math will be affected differently by a language learning disability, or a visual disorder or a difficulty with sequencing, memory or organization. A child with a math-based learning disorder may struggle with memorization and organization of numbers, operation signs, and number “facts” (like 5+5=10 or 5×5=25). Children with math learning disorders might also have trouble with counting principles (such as counting by twos or counting by fives) or have difficulty telling time.
Sign and symptoms
- Shows difficulty understanding concepts of place value, quantity, number lines, a positive and negative value, carrying and borrowing
- Has difficulty understanding and doing word problems
- Has difficulty sequencing information or events
- Exhibits difficulty using steps involved in math operations
- Shows difficulty understanding fractions
- Is challenged making change and handling money
- Displays difficulty recognizing patterns when adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing
- Has difficulty putting language to math processes
- Has difficulty understanding concepts related to time such as days, weeks, months, seasons, quarters, etc.
- Exhibits difficulty organizing problems on the page, keeping numbers lined up, following through on long division problems.
Cause & Risk factors
A learning disability happens when a person’s brain development is affected, either before they are born, during their birth or in early childhood.
- The mother becoming ill in pregnancy
- Problems during the birth that stop enough oxygen getting to the brain.
- Illness, such as meningitis
- Brain injury in early childhood
- Genetics: sometimes the unborn baby develops certain genes or parents pass certain malfunctioned genes to the unborn baby that make having a learning disability more likely that is known as inherited learning disability acting as a cause.
- There is a 10% risk in a dyscalculic family member of math disability whereas there are 47% chances that another learning disability would occur in the family.
Some Diseases act as Risk factors
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Epilepsy (30%)
- Turner Syndrome
- Fragile X Syndrome in girls
Neuro biological Factor
Brain structures and Functions
Abnormal activities in these brain areas lead to the mathematical problems relating to calculations and approximations because these areas are involved in exact calculations and approximations.
- Inferior pre-frontal cortex in left-hemisphere
- Left angular-gyrus
- Inferior parietal lobe
- Approximately 5-6% of school-age children suffer from dyscalculia (Shalev et al., 2000).
- Equal prevalence in boys and girls has been found for this problem (Shalev et al., 2000).
Learning disabilities can be identified by any one of the following professionals by means of
4 step assessment process.
- School psychologists
- Clinical psychologists
- Counselling psychologists
- Brief test
- Review of medical, school or home performance
- Homework notebooks
- Previous records of performance
- A combination of formal intelligence testing
- II. Testing for processing and comprehension.
- Academic achievement testing that may involve:
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
It is used for reading, writing, oral language, as well as math skills (depending on which Sub-tests have been used).
- Wide Range Achievement Test 4 (WRAT-4)
It measures basic academic skills in reading, spelling and math for ages 5 and up.
- Test of Mathematical Abilities (TOMA-3)
What it measures: Math abilities in kids 8 years and up
Key Math–3 Diagnostic Assessment
What it measures: Essential math concepts, skills, strengths and weakness of child in area.
A statement specifying the results of the assessment, including the type of LD identified.
Depending upon the type of disability identified recommendations for home, school, and daily living are provided. Other areas of assessment may include perception, cognition, memory, attention, and language abilities for excluding other problems.
Strategies for management at an individual level
- Allow use of fingers and scratch paper
- Use diagrams and draw math concepts
- Provide peer assistance
- Work with manipulatives
- Suggest the use of coloured pencils to differentiate problems
- Suggest the use of graph paper
- Draw pictures of word problems
- Use mnemonic devices to learn the steps of a math concept
- Use rhythm and music to teach math facts and to set steps to a beat Schedule computer time for the student for drill and practice.
What can the school do for Implementation
Baker et.al, (2002) According to him effective outcomes can be achieved through:
- Providing data on student performance to teachers and students.
- Peer tutoring
- Providing feedback to parents on student’s achievement for close liaison.
- Explicit teaching of math concepts and procedures.
The classroom instructions should:
- Take place in groups
- Academically focused.
- Specifically take into account a student’s individual needs.
Modelling of Computational Skills
Teacher’s demonstrations of calculations, algorithms and higher-level procedural steps have been found effective in both computational and problem-solving behaviours in students.
Strategy Training: Task Analysis
A task analysis of the relevant cognitive operation is demonstrated and explained to the students. When students have mastered the component skills, strategies are provided that help the students integrate the steps and apply them in a different problem-solving context.
The self-instructional strategy is to teach a student first verbalize the steps that should be used in solving a particular math problem. Once the student has mastered the application of problem-solving algorithms, the student is taught to self-instruct but using sub-vocal directions.
- Explicit explanations by the teacher
- Pictorial or concrete representations
- Verbal rehearsal with prompting and gradual fading
- Intensive timed practice on mixed problem sets
- Self-regulation strategies (research has shown that students that set their own learning goals are more successful than students who worked on teachers designed goals).
- Cumulative review of the previously mastered skills. Provision of reinforcement on showing improvement § Make use of talking calculators or talking books.
- Reiff, Henry B.; Gerber, Paul J.; Ginsberg, Rick (1993). “Definitions of Learning Disabilities from Adults with Learning Disabilities: The Insiders’ Perspectives”. Learning Disability Quarterly. 16 (2): 114–125. doi:10.2307/1511133. JSTOR1511133.
- Excerpted from the LDA of California and UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute “Q.U.I.L.T.S.” Calendar 2001-2002.
- Reschly, Daniel J.; Hosp, John L.; Schmied, Catherine M. (2003). And Miles to Go. State SLD Requirements and Authoritative Recommendations (Report). National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD). Recommendations for Change in SLD Definition and Classification Criteria. Archived from the original on 25 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
- Specific Learning Disorder. American Psychiatric Association DSM-5 Development. American Psychiatric Association. 15 May 2013.
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