Children need basic skills as they grow up. In school, some of the basic skills they learn include arithmetic, which involves simple activities like adding one apple to another. Unfortunately, not all children can understand arithmetic so easily, and this is especially the case for those with dyscalculia.
What is Dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is a learning disorder in which a person, whether a child or adult, has difficulty learning or comprehending math.
How do you spot Dyscalculia in children?
Children with Dyscalculia will have difficulty comprehending basic mathematical concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. The children will also have a hard time reconciling the number figure to their associated word. For example, the children will not be able to link the word ‘seven’ to the figure ‘7’.
Other signs will include difficulty recognizing mathematical patterns like smallest to greatest and vice versa. The child may also find it difficult to count. This can be noted when the child skips over numbers when counting while his or her peers can do so with great ease.
Children do not outgrow dyscalculia. As they get into different phases of schooling, the signs will manifest in different ways. In grade school, you can observe their learning habits. Some of the signs include having trouble associating mathematical signs and their symbols, or the inability to perform simple mathematics mentally.Such a child will still count his fingers while his peers have progressed.
Types of dyscalculia
Verbal Dyscalculia: Children have a hard time understanding mathematical concepts when explained verbally. It is easier for them to write down the figures-they cannot express them verbally or understand them if they are presented in written words.
Lexical Dyscalculia:Children have trouble reading and understanding mathematical symbols and numbers. They find it difficult to understand symbols when they occur in equations.
Graphical Dyscalculia:Children understand mathematical concepts, but find it hard conveying their understanding using mathematical symbols.
Operational Dyscalculia:Children find it difficult to conduct mathematical operations. They are able to understand mathematical concepts such as the relationship between numbers, but experience trouble when trying simple operations like adding the numbers.
Ideognostic Dyscalculia: Mathematical concepts such as number eight being larger than two may seem easy, but not for these children. They find it difficult to understand mathematical concepts as a whole-from oral to written presentation.They will often have trouble understanding the relationship between numbers and how to operate with them.
Practognostic Dyscalculia:Children with this find it difficult to transfer mathematical concepts to real life scenarios. They are unable to perform practical operations.
How to deal with Dyscalculia in children
As is common with learning disabilities, Dyscalculia is not treated with medication. There are specialized strategies and activities used by medics to handle this condition from children to adults. The strategies used are aimed at compensating for the individual’s weaknesses and helping them deal confidently with mathematical problems.
Some of the activities include:
- Playing games that are number-centred, like walking down the street and looking for numbers on doors and sign posts.
- Involving the children in things like shopping where you help them calculate items in the cart slowly, checking the prices, and checking how many items remain in the list, among others.
- Enrolling them in specialized classes specifically for children with their disorder where they use approaches different from the normal class setting.
As is the case with other learning disorders in children, these kids are smart. Despite the difficulties they face with mathematics, they and can thrive in environments that are inclusive of them despite their shortcomings. Love, care, and support will go a long way in helping them overcome their challenges.