If your child struggles with math, it can be an uphill battle to get them to even attempt that challenging calculus homework or focus on improving their &&. Some kids just seem to ‘get’ math, and some don’t. And now scientists agree that this is true.
It turns out many children who struggle with math may have an undiagnosed condition called dyscalculia – a learning disorder similar to dyslexia, but affecting the student’s ability to learn arithmetic.
A study undertaken by Queens University in Northern Ireland found one in 20 children suffer from dyscalculia, but it is rarely diagnosed and treated, therefore many of those students will just go on thinking they’re bad at math for the rest of their lives.
Dr Kinga Morsanyi and her team from the School of Psychology analysed the performance of 2421 primary school students in math over several years. They say they expected the number of students with dyscalculia to be similar to the number of children with dyslexia, but, while 108 children had been diagnosed with dyslexia, only one had been diagnosed with dyscalculia.
After the study was completed, however, the researchers found that 112 children were likely to have dyscalculia.
Dr Morsanyi said, “In society, there is sadly a widespread notion that you need a special talent to be good at maths, and that struggling with maths is normal for some people, but this is not the case and it’s not something we would accept if a pupil was unable to read.
“Within the sample of children with dyscalculia, 80 per cent of the children have other developmental conditions, such as dyslexia or speech and language difficulties.
“As current practice is to assign one diagnostic label to each child, this could partially explain why mathematics difficulties are so often ignored.
“Based on our results, it seems likely that children with persistent, serious difficulties with mathematics, unlike children with dyslexia, do not receive specialist support.
Children with dyslexia are over 100 times more likely to be diagnosed and receive support than children with dyscalculia.
As with other learning difficulties, early intervention offers children with dyscalculia the best possible chance at effective treatment and recovery. If you suspect your child has dyscalulia, speak to your GP about obtaining a diagnosis.