What is dyscalculia?


Dyscalculia is a chronic and specific disorder characterized by severe difficulties in learning numbers and arithmetic, but is not accompanied by intellectual deficiency. A child with dyscalculia finds difficulties in acquiring basic mathematical concepts and understanding the meaning of numbers in order to, for instance, compare quantities, calculate and solve problems. 


The difficulties may appear as of the most basic number learning and may expand into adulthood. It is important to note that some difficulties will reduce with age (example: difficulties with counting, writing numbers, etc.) leaving room for other difficulties such as mental calculation, comparing quantities, etc.


What are the clinical signs?


It is essential to precise that the manifestations of dyscalculia are numerous and that they may vary from one person to another, including:

  • Difficulties in counting from 1 to 10.
  • Difficulties in counting objects.
  • Inability to immediately recognize small quantities, in other words, a difficulty in the estimation of the number of items in a small group without having to count them one by one.
  • Difficulty in representing amounts and linking numbers with amounts.
  • Difficulty in comparing numbers and amounts.
  • Mistakes in reading and writing number.
  • Difficulties in executing mental calculations.
  • Difficulties in understanding and solving mathematical problems.
  • Difficulties in learning a multiplication table.
  • Difficulties in understanding mathematical terms and concepts (example: difference, sum, more than, less than).
  • Difficulties in managing money.
  • Difficulties in spatial awareness and poor sense of direction, thus rendering geometry more challenging.


How to act?


It is advised to treat this disorder at an early age in order to provide the child with good assistance and proper support during their school years. Therefore, a speech therapy assessment will help guide rehabilitation with regards to the level and specific needs of each person. The objectives of speech therapy would however hover around several axes:

  • Helping the child form their own reasoning in order for them to think independently in school, as well as in everyday tasks that require logic and reasoning (example: managing money, concepts relating to time, etc.).
  • Guiding parents and providing them with the necessary information in order to understand their child’s difficulties.
  • Providing parents as well as educators with the specific tools in order to support the child in their learning as well as their everyday life.

A rehabilitative follow-up suggested by the speech therapist has proven to be as effective for adolescents and adults with dyscalculia.