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Learning disability in math: how common is it?

Photo: Pexel

by Contributing Author

Every child has different characteristics, interests, and skills. Some are born with a talent, and some develop it with time, effort, and constant hard work. However, it is not possible for a child to be good at everything. A student may excel in science or arts, some may be good at sports or debates. But at the same time these students can have a tough time in some other subjects.

There are many students that find mathematics to be a hard subject. They are unable to grasp basic concepts, make simple calculations, or learn common rules. They can have a tough time in class or in completing their homework. Thus, math becomes their least favorite subject. Many parents or teachers might term the student’s lack of attention as the reason behind it. But there is also a possibility that the student might have a math learning disability.

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The most common term used to describe number-related disability is dyscalculia. This condition makes it hard to learn basic math. Students suffering from this condition find it hard to learn or perform math operations. Experts believe that this condition might run in families. However, no research has proven the hypothesis, and there are no genes linked to dyscalculia.

Identifying dyscalculia in children

Studies have shown that about 7% of students in elementary schools suffer from dyscalculia. It is a very common condition in school students. People might refer to it as math disorder or a mathematics learning disability. Many people that suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also suffer from some type of a learning disorder, and it could possibly be dyscalculia.

Children that develop this condition can have several symptoms associated with it. Young students might continue to count on their fingers while other students have moved on from it. They might have to count even for small numbers, like three or five. These children often develop sheer disliking for their math lessons or math homework. They suffer from stress and anxiety while doing math.

Moreover, they might be unable to understand multiplication and division, or might not grasp math word problems. They also find it hard to understand fractions, graphs, count changes, figure out time, or even remember phone numbers. It can become really frustrating for such students, as they might continue to struggle in school and at home as well.

Taking steps at an early age

Such students require some extra attention from their teachers, peers, and especially parents. Firstly, parents should get their child checked for having any vision or hearing problems. Then they should remain in touch with the teachers of their child to get the hang of the problem. Most importantly, they should check the performance of the student in other subjects. If the performance in math does not correlate with other subjects, it is high time to explore whether the child has a learning disability in math.

Parents should make their child undergo a diagnostic assessment for math. It can help in monitoring the progress of the student and guide them in the future. Also, it will guide parents and teachers on which areas to focus for the student’s improvement. Moreover, the assessment will help in identifying and validating the key target areas. Later, educators can plan accordingly and evaluate the performance of the student. The process can be modified accordingly to have improved results and outcomes.

Such assessments can help in addressing the problems faced by individual students. It will make sure that students are not left behind in their academic careers. They can overcome their difficulties through extra support. It is advisable for parents to show more vigilance in addressing this condition. They can help their child to grow through support from experts.

How to help children with math learning disorder?

Parents can play a huge role in making their children understand math and overcome anxiety. At this time, students need the support of their parents. These parents should not point out their children while they continue to count on fingers. Students should have access to relatively easier calculators, graphs, charts, and erasers. They should be allowed to make mistakes, as this is how they will learn.

Many students perform better with the help of music. Also, getting an experienced math tutor can help in this regard. They can help the student by making math more interesting through doodles, games, pictures, and so on. It will help the student to better understand complex math problems. It is advisable for parents or mentors to talk with children about their learning disorder. Effective communication will help children to manage their anxiety and stay more focused.

These children should be appreciated and acknowledged for the efforts they make, and their results should remain irrelevant. Also, parents and teachers should remain in close contact with the progress of the student. Teachers can be more lenient on these students for improved results. Relaxation over submission, access to recorded lectures, and permission to use a calculator could benefit students in several ways. Therefore, efforts should be made at a wider level to improve the performance of students with a math learning disability. They should not be alienated in schools or at home, as a little extra care could do wonders for them in the long run.



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