Everyone is familiar by now with dyslexia, ADHD, or autism disorder, as these learning disabilities are quite common in the U.S. But there is another common affliction that children and adults struggle with on a daily basis, that’s not talked about quite as much: dyscalculia.
The name already tells us that this learning disability has to do with math, and this might be one of the reasons why many people are not aware of the existence and prevalence of dyscalculia. Math is not one of the most beloved subjects in school, and many children tend to struggle with it or dislike it, unless they love exact sciences.
For this reason, many parents and teachers simply assume that a child is bad at math because they don’t enjoy it, and they are more inclined to excel in languages, literature, or the arts. But there might be more to it, and these children might actually be struggling with dyscalculia, which is a learning disorder affecting someone’s ability to process math and number-related tasks.
5 Myths about dyscalculia, debunked
Just like some children struggle with processing letters, words, or sentences, others might struggle with math equations, percentages, numbers and sums, and other math-related tasks. However, dyslexia is talked about a lot more than dyscalculia, although this seems to be changing, as more research is going into figuring out ways to help children struggling with numbers.
There are, of course, many misconceptions about dyscalculia, about how to spot it, how to take it seriously, and how to help children overcome it and thrive in their academic pursuits. Being able to work with numbers is crucial not only to a child’s academic development, but it’s also a crucial skill in any adult’s daily life. Here’s what to know about it.
Myth #1: Dyscalculia is very rare
Many people are inclined to believe that dyscalculia is quite a rare occurrence, because it’s not talked about as much as other learning difficulties like dyslexia or ADHD. The reality is that dyscalculia is just as common as dyslexia, but it’s just harder to diagnose, precisely because of all the misconceptions around it. Research shows that a lot of children or adults struggling with dyscalculia also tend to struggle with other challenges, like dyslexia or autism disorder, which might make it even harder to diagnose.
Myth #2: Dyscalculia is just like dyslexia, but with numbers
While dyscalculia does resemble dyslexia in that it’s a learning disability that affects a child’s progress in dealing with number-related tasks, similar to how other children struggle with letters or words, it is by no means the same thing. A lot of people refer to dyscalculia as math-related dyslexia, but the ways in which these two disabilities impact someone’s life are different. People with dyscalculia often also struggle with money management, paying bills, finding directions, and even physical coordination.
Myth #3: Kids with dyscalculia just don’t like math
One of the most common myths about dyscalculia is that it’s not a real affliction, and children diagnosed with it are just lazy or don’t like math. While it’s true that a lot of children and teens aren’t big fans of math or exact sciences in general, dyscalculia is much more than that. It’s not just a general dislike, it’s not laziness or disinterest, but a real inability to process tasks related to numbers. This struggle and inability can lead to a lot of frustration, anxiety, and even depression, especially if the child is not taken seriously by parents or teachers.
Myth #4: Dyscalculia is just another name for math anxiety
Many students have reading-related anxiety, and being asked to read something aloud in the classroom can trigger a lot of stress. Having to solve math equations in front of the entire classroom can also be an anxiety-inducing situation, but this is not the same as dyscalculia. Some children simply don’t do as well when they have to perform tasks while being watched by others, because they’re afraid of making mistakes. Dyscalculia is something different than anxiety related to math or different school tasks, it’s a real learning disability that makes it incredibly difficult for children to thrive academically. Not being diagnosed properly or diagnosed can lead to even more anxiety and stress, so it’s crucial that teachers are aware of the signs and symptoms of dyscalculia in the classroom and establish a diagnosis as early as possible.
Myth #5: Dyscalculia goes away with age
Another common myth about dyscalculia is that it will simply improve or go away with age, and that children struggling with it will eventually grow out of it. However, this is not the case, because there is no real cure for dyscalculia, just like there isn’t one for dyslexia. The impact dyscalculia has on someone’s life can, however, be managed, and minimized, but it’s important that a diagnosis is established early, in childhood, and that the necessary steps are taken to help the child deal with it effectively. Otherwise, if not managed correctly, dyscalculia can have a significant impact on an adult’s life, making it hard for them to deal with daily situations like paying or calculating bills, managing finances, and more.
If you think your child or student might be dealing with dyscalculia, and you want to learn about how to help them overcome this challenge and thrive in their academic and personal life, reach out to Da Vinci Collaborative to speak to one of our experts.