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Thursday, March 23, 2017




Recent neurobehavioral and genetic research suggests that dyscalculia is a severe disability in learning arithmetic. It seems to affect learners with normal intelligence and normal working memory and oddly enough it co-occurs with other developmental disorders, including reading disorders.




What Is Dyscalculia? Or is it Discalculia?

Also at times referred to as discalculia, albeit incorrectly spelt, it still refers to the same disability.  Recent neurobehavioral and genetic research suggests that dyscalculia is a severe disability in learning arithmetic. It seems to affect learners with normal intelligence and normal working memory and oddly enough it co-occurs with other developmental disorders, including reading disorders. A person may be a high-functioning adult that is good at geometry, using statistics packages, and doing degree-level computer programming, yet struggling with dyscalculia. This points to evidence that mathematical abilities have high specific heritability. This capacity is impaired in dyscalculia learners even in small tasks like enumerating sets of objects or comparing the numbers of two arrays of dots. It seems that dyscalculia persists into adulthood, even among individuals who are able in other cognitive domains. There is still a open question as to whether there is a form of dyscalculia that is a delay, rather than a deficit, that will resolve, perhaps with appropriate educational support. Numbers do not seem to be meaningful for dyscalculics—at least, not meaningful in the way that they are for typically developing learners. They don’t intuitively understand the size of a number and the value relative another number. This core understanding underpins all work with numbers and their relationships to one another.



"There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more"
Robert M. Hensel


What treatment is there for dyscalculia?

It is known what should be taught, however it is not clear how it should be taught. Teachers should use activities in the form of games with physical manipulables (such as Cuisenaire rods, number tracks, and playing cards) to give learners experience of the meaning of number. A promising approach is to construct adaptive software informed by the neuroscience findings on the core deficit in dyscalculia. Such software has the potential to reduce the demand on specially trained teachers and to transcend the limits of the school schedule. An additional advantage of adaptive software is that learners can do more practice per unit time that with a teacher. At this moment of time, it is not yet completely understood whether early and appropriately targeted interventions can help and how much, however, dyscalculia may be like dyslexia in that early intervention can improve practical effectiveness without making the cognitive processing like that of the typically developing.


What are the behaviour characteristics of dyscalculia?

Traditionally, it was as to have been poor retrieval of arithmetic facts from memory and the perseverant use of immature calculation strategies. A more recent way of thinking suggests that it may be rooted in impairments of a neurobiological system for processing numerical magnitudes (the total number of items in a set) and that it is this impairment that, over the course of learning and development, gives rise to the difficulties in the retrieval of arithmetic facts. Debate still exists, however, as to the role of domain general cognitive factors, such as working-memory and spatial attention.


Why is solving dyscalculia important to the economy? 

In a recent analysis, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) demonstrated that an improvement of each individuals performance in mathematics and science, would imply an increase in annual growth rates.




Why is solving dyscalculia important? 

A study has shown that low numeracy was more of a handicap for an individual’s life chances than low literacy. They earn less, spend less, are more likely to be sick, are more likely to be in trouble with the law, and need more help in school.


Interesting facts of dyscalculia.

Although its is roughly the same prevalence as developmental dyslexia which is an estimated prevalence of about 5 to 7%, it has a much lower public profile. The consequences of dyscalculia are at least as severe as those for dyslexia. The relative poverty of dyscalculia funding is clear from the figures: Since 2000. The understanding of dyscalculia as a clinical syndrome uses under achievement in mathematic tests as the criteria, without identifying the underlying cognitive reasons. Due to this, it has therefore been unable to inform pathways to remediation, whether in focused interventions or in the larger, more complex context of the math classroom.








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