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Educators & Students with Learning Disabilities: Dyscalculia

Useful for elementary and secondary administrators, librarians, classroom teachers, and parents and students with Learning Disabilities


Dyscalculia Math disabilities

A neurological mathematical disorder in which a person has trouble with time, solving arithmetic problems, and understanding math concepts and symbols.

It refers to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math. Difficulties vary from person to person and affect people differently in school and throughout life. School-age children with language processing disabilities may have difficulty solving basic math problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They struggle to remember and retain basic math facts and have trouble figuring out how to apply their knowledge and skills to solve math problems.

Difficulties may also arise because of weakness in visual-spatial skills, where a person may understand the needed math facts, but have difficulty putting them down on paper in an organized way. Visual-spatial difficulties can also make understanding what is written on a board or in a textbook challenging. 

From LD Online

Signs of Dyscalculia

Signs of Dyscalculia

  • Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence, and basic math facts. Poor long terms memory of concept mastery--able to perform operations one day but not the next.
  • When writing, reading, and recalling numbers, common mistakes with additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, reversals.
  • Inconsistent results in basic math--addition, subtraction, divisions, multiplication.
  • Poor with money and credit, balancing accounts, long terms financial planning.
  • Fear of money and cash transactions--unable to figure change due back, amount of tips, etc.
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts of time and direction.  Inability to recall schedules, sequence of past or future events.
  • Unable to "picture" mechanical processes and visualize or picture--location of numbers on the fact of a clock, geographical location of streets, oceans, etc.
  • Poor sense of direction.
  • May have difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education--sight reading, fingering, etc.
  • May have poor athletic coordination and difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions--remembering rules for sports, dance step sequences.
  • Difficulty keeping score during games or remembering how to keep score--loses track of whose turn it is during games. Limited strategic planning ability for games like chess.
  • Mistaken recollection of names, name/face retrieval.
  • May often have accelerated language acquisition--reading, writing, verbal. Good poetic ability, visual memory for printed word.
  • Good in creative arts.

From The Dyscalculia Forum

From Misunderstood Minds, click the video link to learn what it is like to have trouble remembering in math.

image - video


Misunderstood Minds

Try the Spatial Activities to experience firsthand what people with dyscalculia encounter.

See also the Arithmetic Activity and the Sequence Activity.

Dyscalculia Accommodations & Resources

Dyscalculia Accommodations & Resources


  • Allow use of fingers and scratch paper
  • Use diagrams and draw math concepts
  • Provide peer assistance
  • Suggest use of graph paper
  • Suggest use of colored pencils to differentiate problems
  • Work with manipulatives
  • Draw pictures of word problems
  • Use mneumonic devices to learn steps of a math concept
  • Use rhythm and music to teach math facts and to set steps to a beat
  • Schedule computer time for the student for drill and practice

From the LDA of California and UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute "Q.U.I.L.T.S." Calendar 2001-2002