# Dyscalculia at a Glance

8 Feb 2024

by

Noetic

3

minute read

## What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning difference that mainly affects someone’s ability to understand numbers and mathematical concepts.

Some people think about dyscalculia as the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, but it is not as well known or understood as dyslexia. While approximately 25% of the population will experience some challenges learning maths (sometimes caused by other neurodivergences), dyscalculia only affects approximately 6% of the population.

Dyscalculia is **not** related to someone’s intelligence. It is a lifelong neurodivergence that can affect anyone, regardless of intellectual capability.

## Types

As people with dyscalculia can struggle with different things, people may choose to identify with different types of dyscalculia such as:

**Operational Dyscalculia:**Challenges in performing basic arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.**Quantitative Dyscalculia:**Struggles with understanding the quantity that a number represents.**Spatial Dyscalculia:**Challenges in understanding space and geometry.

Typically, a diagnosis is simply 'dyscalculia' without specifying a subtype. However, someone may choose to identify with a particular type to help facilitate more tailored support and explain to others their specific challenges.

## Causes

The exact cause of dyscalculia is unknown, in part because existing research into dyscalculia is limited. Existing studies indicate it may be linked to genetic factors as it often runs in families. Differences in brain structure are also thought to contribute to dyscalculia in areas such as the frontal lobe or the left intraparietal sulcus. These areas are thought to be associated with reasoning and numeric comprehension, respectively.

Dyscalculia, like other learning differences, often co-occurs alongside other neurodivergences: 11% of children with ADHD have dyscalculia; 60% of people with dyslexia will experience some challenges learning maths, although this may not be dyscalculia.

## 💪 Strengths

🧠 Problem-solving: Their unique approach to numerical challenges often fosters outside of the box thinking. Strategies used often involve intuitive and holistic thinking that comes more naturally to many people with dyscalculia. 🌐 Big-picture Thinking: Many individuals with dyscalculia excel in understanding the broader context of a problem or situation. 🎨 Creativity: The need to find alternative routes to understanding often leads to high levels of creativity. Many people with dyscalculia can come up with innovative ideas, unique solutions, and artistic expressions spreading across all areas of their life. 📚 Communication Skills: Many people with dyscalculia often excel at storytelling, persuasive speaking, and explaining complex ideas in understandable terms.

## 🏔️Struggles

➗ Mathematical Concepts: Difficulty understanding basic maths concepts such as multiplication or fractions. 📉 Number Sense: Struggles with estimating numbers, quantities or understanding numerical significance. ⏱️ Time Management: Challenges with concepts of time and scheduling, including telling the time. 📐 Spatial Awareness: Difficulty in understanding maps, geometry, and spatial relationships. 💹 Financial Literacy: Managing personal finances, estimating cost of living and sticking to a budget can be challenging. 🧩 Pattern recognition: Difficulty recognising sequences and interpreting patterns.

# Sources

British Dyslexia Association - Dyscalculia

Soares, N., & Patel, D. R. (2015). Dyscalculia. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-29454-003

University of Oxford - Equality and Diversity Unit