Sunday, July 24, 2011

When "just not a math person" doesn't add up: Dyscalculia and what it means for kids
Above is a link to a site that describes something called Dyscalculia.  It is basically like dyslexia, except for words and letters, its math and numbers.  I think I may have this.  I have always struggled with math, and I still do, though with lots of practice it is better.  Good enough to get through the day.  I think most of that was strenuous practice when I was a cashier.  There was one place I worked at where I was required to count change back to the dollar before they let me on the register.  Not only that, but I was trained with a group.  This was extra incentive to get it right.  So, I bought a bag of play money, went home and practiced it.  Even if my register broke I could, without error, count back your change to the dollar even to this day.

As a child, I really struggled through math tasks.  When I had to work, I had to rely on counting on my fingers, which was very frowned upon by my second grade teacher.It got to the point to where she recommended I be tested for special ed.  Even though this was 20 yrs ago, they did special ed testing quite a lot the same as today.  I was tested in all areas and when was all said and done I was found to be gifted, with the exception of math, of course.  The school forgot all about my math issues and focused on the where I can get my needs met in all the other areas.  Which was okay, because I was just as bored in class as they thought I to be after seeing where I was academically.  The school I attended was very small and didn't have a gifted program for grade school students, so the faculty tried to move me up a grade in effort to alleviate my boredom.  I as a young aspie child was vehemently opposed to such a drastic change.  So, I remained in the same grade, but without any aid in my math skills, which seemed more and more behind with each passing year.  By the time I got to algebra I was failing.  I had no concept of what to do and no amount of extra tutoring seemed to help.  I wish that I had gotten the extra help when I was young.  I get by, but still count on my fingers. ;)


  1. This could easily be me, or my daughter, you describe. My daughter has now, as an adult and a teacher, had her dyscalculia identified by another teacher. They didn't understand about it back when she was in school, and didn't test for it - heck, it's only a few years ago that NZ schools 'officially' recognised even that dyslexia exists! But if it had been, how much confusion and agony and being told "you just need to try harder!" she could have been saved.
    And of course in my time at school, no such testing, of any kind, except IQ sometimes, was done. I just struggled along as best as i could. Times tables? Never really got them. Algebra? Forget it. Trigonometry? Geometry? Cosines? Who cares? That was my attitude. Someone once told me maths was 'like music'. I thought that was an insult to the music, lol. It was like the numbers kept kind of 'shifting around', whenever i tried to add/subtract/etc. I couldn't keep them fixed in my mind. I now know i am very much a visual learner, and it wasn't until i was home schooling my daughter about 20 years ago, and we used the coloured rods for maths, that i (and she) began to understand even basic maths facts. I could SEE that 3x4 really WAS the same as 4x3!! Oh, how i wish such things had been available in my day!

  2. I've never heard of colored rods. Sounds interesting, though.

  3. This is me - I'm fairly sure this is why I just don't "get" maths. I know it was a puzzle to many of my teachers over the years as to how I could be very advanced in some areas and yet seem so deficient in mathematics.

    I had the same experience in school - it might explain why I was never put in remedial classes. People tried to teach me, including my Dad, but to this day, I am only good at times tables (memory is the crucial thing here) and basic addition and subtraction. Anything else, I require a calculator.

    It is one of the biggest problems I've had in life as it's ruled me out of so many things I might have liked to do.

    I did straight humanities in high school and then at university level. I started training as a primary school teacher and dropped out because of my maths phobia. Sad but true. I just couldn't risk the exposure but I never told anyone else about that. I just switched to English and didn't mention the maths thing.

  4. It's so sad that you actually had to re-route your career plans and education due to feeling unable to do one course. We should have been identified and taught in a way we we can learn maths in school. I think schools are a little better at identifying kids like we were now, but it's still not great. My son is really struggling ATM. His 4th grade (I don't know what that would be in other countries. He's 10) teacher has given up on him memorizing the multiplication tables and allows him to use a graph for his work.

    I know that fear that you speak of as one does all they can to not let anyone find out just how bad at math we are. I assume that it's much like dyslexics trying desperately to not let anyone find out just how bad at reading and writing they are.


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