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Specific Learning Disorder in Math/Dyscalculia

Updated: Apr 16

Dyscalculia and other specific learning disorders in math make it difficult for a student to learn and complete math-related material

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder that affects a student’s ability to learn, understand, and perform tasks related to numbers. Not all students who have math learning differences will receive a diagnosis of dyscalculia. For example, some students have differences only with accurately completing math calculation (e.g., correctly completing pencil and paper math problems), others struggle to complete math calculations quickly, other students have a more difficult time memorizing math facts, while others have trouble completing word problems related to math (e.g., often termed math reasoning). A student who displays differences related to math reasoning might struggle to identify which number or group of objects is larger, tell time, or make change. Similar to other specific learning disorders (like dyslexia or dysgraphia), math learning differences are often noticed when a student first begins to learn math concepts.


Your child may have a specific learning disorder in math if they:

  • Struggle to learn to count

  • Have difficulty recalling numbers

  • Lose track when counting

  • Continue to use their fingers to help with counting

  • Struggle to memorize math facts

  • Have difficulty recognizing patterns (e.g., circle, square, circle, square) and placing numbers in order


If your child is struggling with any of these tasks, there are things you can do to help!

  • Have your child complete a psychoeducational evaluation to gain more information about their math skills (e.g., this helps to pinpoint areas of strength and difficulty)

  • Consider sharing a copy of this evaluation with your child’s school. Your child may qualify for extra support

  • Additional supports at school may include

  • Meeting with a math specialist

  • The use of a calculator

  • A quiet room for testing

  • Extra time to complete tests

  • In addition to possible support at school, other tools will be helpful

  • Pencils with erasers

  • Graph paper to help line up numbers correctly

  • Pointing out math in everyday life

  • Math apps and games (dyscalculia.org and Dyscalculia Services both have lists of resources to help build math skills)

  • Consider having your child meet with a tutor


While it is helpful to be able to identify possible math differences, it is also (possibly more so) beneficial to also share about strengths that tend to be present in individuals with math differences. According to Exceptional Individuals.com, there are many positive qualities that tend to go hand-in-hand with math differences, including:

  • Creativity–artistically and socially

  • Intuitive thinking–which allows an individual to “listen to their gut feeling”

  • Problem solving skills–allowing an individual to consider alternative solutions to problems

  • Observant–which is helpful when “reading a room” of other individuals



Contact us with questions or to schedule an evaluation to help identify math differences.

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