“That is enough of fooling around, Nicole. You are doing finger counting. It is straight forward and there is no confusion. You are trying to make it sound like you are mathematically challenged. Stop all those silly excuses, focus and finish your work in two minutes. ”
Helen was fed up of her otherwise angelic eight year old daughter Nicole’s excuses to avoid Mathematics. Nicole hated Maths and Helen wanted to change Nicole’s attitude towards Maths.
But, Nicole was facing a much more difficult situation than Helen. Nicole found it weird that she was not able to understand the mathematical concepts most of her friends seemed to pick up from the class. She had difficulty in imagining a number line; she found it hard to count objects in groups, even when the group was as little as two to three objects.
At the age of 10, Nicole found it really annoying that her classmates said addition and subtraction was easy when she still had no clue about how it works. Her inability to do Maths reflected not only in her low Maths grades, her self-esteem was also shattered. Nicole felt no one is able to understand her situation. So, she did not share her worries with anyone, not even with Helen. Nicole started spending her time inside the locked doors of her room after school. Helen was worried, she felt she did not understand her daughter at all.
Nicole’s low confidence attracted bullies towards her. The next four years she suffered severe bullying, without the knowledge of her family. Panic attacks became part of her life.
It was then that a new teacher joined the school. The teacher noticed Nicole’s behavior and her performance. She observed that Nicole was performing extremely well in writing and drawing. She advised Helen to test Nicole for dyscalculia.
The results came back positive for Nicole. She was diagnosed with dyscalculia at the age of 15. Nicole was mathematically challenged, but that was not a measure of her intelligence. Her test results came back with very high IQ scores. Her high IQ helped her breeze through all other subjects except Maths.
When Helen came to know about this relatively unknown learning difficulty, she felt guilty. She realized her child was not acting ‘mathematically challenged’. She realized it was not her child’s carelessness that resulted in her poor performance in Maths. She realized she needed to help her child. Nicole was relieved, as she did not need to blame herself for not getting the results for all the hard work she was putting in.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Lower Your Child’s Anxiety
What is Dyscalculia
Dyscalculia is a brain disorder that causes severe difficulty in learning and comprehending arithmetic among the sufferers. It is also known as Mathematics Learning Disability and Math Dyslexia.
Have you ever felt that your child or a loved one is mathematically challenged? Do you think they could be suffering from Dyscalculia?
Helen gave me a list of symptoms she now thinks she had overlooked in the past. The list below also includes some pointers from AboutDyscalculia.org.
- Difficulty in reading analog clocks
- Difficulty in stating which of two numbers is larger (for example, is 6 larger or smaller than 4)
- Particular difficulty with subtraction
- Difficulty with multiplication tables
- Difficulties with imagining a mental number line
- Difficulties with finger counting
- Many symptoms of dyslexia
- Attention deficiency (not in all cases)
- Anxiety towards maths
- Difficulties with budgeting
You can find a comprehensive set of symptoms at AboutDyscalculia.org.
You may find these symptoms in many young children when they start to learn the concepts. So, instead of jumping into a panic mode, please take some time to assess whether your child’s confusion with numbers is age appropriate or it is something you need to really worry about. If you worry that your child could have this disability, please approach an expert for a diagnosis.
What is the Next Step if your Child gets diagnosed with Dyscalculia
Nicole got diagnosed at 15. So, the child who should have been diagnosed with dyscalculia and ADD when she was at least in primary school, did not receive the diagnosis and treatment until the age of 15. But, it still was not too late.
The parents got the counseling on how to deal with the situation. Helen and the whole family rallied behind Nicole to support her to regain her lost confidence. They moved Nicole to a school system that acknowledged and understood the condition. The new school supported her to pursue excellence in other areas of her life in spite of her disability. They got special permission from the examination board so that Nicole does not need to learn math as a subject. She still learned math, but that matched her ability to learn it.
Now, Nicole is a smart and confident 19 year old pursuing her undergraduate degree in Australia. She has proved herself to be a good writer and a stage artist. She is not learning math, but that is neither dampening her future nor her enthusiasm for learning.
The world is slowly coming to acknowledge Mathematics Learning Disability. Every year the Dyscalculia Day is held on the third day of March to spread the awareness about dyscalculia.
In Asian culture, Maths is given a lot of importance. There are a lot of gadgets and Apps in today’s world to support us with our day to day Mathematical needs. If a child is mathematically challenged, it does not stop them from achieving greatness and enjoying a normal life.
If your child or a loved one gets diagnosed with dyscalculia, the best thing you can do is to accept and understand the situation. Once you become aware and understanding, it will be easier for you to find ways to support them. You can find a lot more information on dyscalculia at http://www.aboutdyscalculia.org and http://www.dyscalculia.org.