Dyscalculia is an innate difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics. Children with Dyscalculia have trouble understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning mathematical facts, and a number of other related difficulties.

Dyscalculia can be defined as:
… a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Learners with dyscalculia may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence.

The severity of mathematical impairment differs depending on the individual. Although it can be argued that many of the defining features of Dyscalculia can also be seen in children who do poorly in mathematics, it is the degree of these difficulties and the resistance to remedial intervention that set children with Dyscalculia apart from others with learning difficulties.

Dyscalculia across the school years

Children with dyscalculia will show some or many of the difficulties listed below. They may not display all of these characteristics.

  • Difficulties organising objects and sets of items in a logical way
  • Difficulties recognising printed numbers
  • Poor counting skills and knowledge of counting strategies
  • Difficulties using counting strategies (counting in 2s, 5s etc.)
  • Difficulties with mastering number knowledge (recognising how many items make a set without counting)
  • Difficulties in using effective counting strategies for addition (counting all instead of counting on)
  • Difficulties decomposing numbers
  • Difficulties remembering arithmetic facts
  • Counting skills mastered but persistent use of ineffective strategies for calculation
  • Difficulty telling the time and recalling times tables
  • Delays in the retrieval of overlearned maths facts
  • Difficulties attending to numerical operator (e.g. +,-,x, ÷)
  • Difficulties in applying concepts of borrowing and carrying (place value)
  • Difficulties with measurement and understanding spatial relationships
  • Difficulties with multi-step calculation procedures
  • Increased anxiety and negative attitude towards maths
  • Difficulties learning maths concepts beyond basic number facts
  • Difficulties with mental maths
  • Difficulties finding more than one way to solve a maths problem
  • Delays in learning and recognising maths vocabulary
  • Difficulties in reading and interpreting graphs, charts and maps
  • Poor perception of the passage of time and difficulties sticking to a schedule
  • Poor budgeting skills
  • Difficulties with spatial directions

In this section

I have always struggled with maths. I have trouble reading a clock, figuring out change, and other basic maths skills. Numbers make me feel anxious, and that is hard because you need to use maths all the time.
Jason, Age 16 years