Check Your Math Disability Symptoms: 


(a) Difficulty with time, directions, recalling schedules, sequences of events. Difficulty keeping track of time. Frequently late.
(b) Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name-face association. Substitute names beginning with same letter.
(c) Inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Bad at financial planning and money management. Too slow at mental math to figure totals, change due, tip, tax.
(d) When writing, reading and recalling numbers, these mistakes may occur: number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals.
(e) Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic math facts (+-x/).
(f) Poor memory (retention & retrieval) of math concepts- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but then fails tests.
(g) Unable to imagine or "picture" mechanical processes. Poor ability to "visualize or picture" the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc.
(h) Poor memory for the "layout" of things. Gets lost or disoriented easily. May have a poor sense of direction, may lose things often, and seem absent minded.
(i) Difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education. Difficulty sight-reading music, learning fingering to play an instrument.
(j) Difficulty with motor sequencing, noticeable in athletic performance, difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions like in aerobic, dance, and exercise classes. Difficulty with dance step sequences, muscle memory, sports moves.
(k) Difficulty remembering how to keep score in games, like bowling, cards, etc. Often loses track of whose turn it is. Limited strategic planning ability for games like chess.
(l) Experiences anxiety during math tasks.
(m) Uses fingers to count. Loses track when counting. Cannot do mental math. Adds with dots or tally marks.
(n) Numbers and math seem like a foreign language.

Symptoms Established By Research

The following are seen in primary school, and well established by educational researchers:


1. Delay in counting. Five to seven year-old dyscalculic children show less understanding of basic counting principles than their peers (e.g. that it doesn't matter which order objects are counted in). [1-3]

2. Delay in using counting strategies for addition. Dyscalculic children tend to keep using inefficient strategies for calculating addition facts much longer than their peers. [2, 4, 5]

3. Difficulties in memorizing arithmetic facts. Dyscalculic children have great difficulty in memorizing simple addition, subtraction and multiplication facts (eg. 5 + 4 = 9), and this difficulty persists up to at least the age of thirteen. [6-10]

These symptoms may be caused by two more fundamental difficulties, although more research is needed to be sure:

1. Lack of “number sense”. Dyscalculic children may have a fundamental difficulty in understanding quantity. [11, 12] They are slower at even very simple quantity tasks such as comparing two numbers (which is bigger, 7 or 9?), and saying how many there are for groups of 1-3 objects. The brain areas which appear to be affected in dyscalculia are areas which are specialized to represent quantity.

2. Less automatic processing of written numbers. In most of us, reading the symbol "7" immediately causes our sense of quantity to be accessed. In dyscalculic individuals this access appears to be slower and more effortful. [13-15]. Thus dyscalculic children may have difficulty in linking written or spoken numbers to the idea of quantity.

The Following May Sometimes Be ASSOCIATED With Dyscalculia, But Not In All Cases:


1. Dyslexia, or difficulty reading

2. Attentional difficulties

3. Spatial difficulties (not good at drawing, visualisation, remembering arrangements of objects, understanding time/direction)

4. Short term memory difficulties (the literature on the relation between these and dyscalculia is very controversial)

5. Poor coordination of movement (dyspraxia)


[1] D. C. Geary, C. C. Bow-Thomas, and Y. Yao, "Counting knowledge and skill in cognitive addition: A comparison of normal and mathematically disabled children," Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 54, pp. 372-391, 1992.[2] D. C. Geary, C. O. Hamson, and M. K. Hoard, "Numerical and arithmetical cognition: A longitudinal study of process and concept deficits in children with learning disability," Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 77, pp. 236-263, 2000.[3] D. C. Geary, M. K. Hoard, and C. O. Hamson, "Numerical and arithmetical cognition: Patterns of functions and deficits in children at risk for a mathematical disability," Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 74, pp. 213-239, 1999.[4] D. C. Geary, "A componential analysis of an early learning deficit in mathematics," Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 49, pp. 363-383, 1990.[5] D. C. Geary, S. C. Brown, and V. A. Samaranayake, "Cognitive addition: A short longitudinal study of strategy choice and speed-of-processing differences in normal and mathematically disabled children," Developmental Psychology, vol. 27, pp. 787-797, 1991.[6] H. P. Ginsburg, "Mathematics Learning Disabilities: A View from Developmental Psychology," Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 30, pp. 20-33, 1997.[7] N. C. Jordan and T. O. Montani, "Cognitive arithmetic and problem solving: A comparison and children with specific and general mathematics difficulties," Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 30, pp. 624-634, 1997.[8] J. R. Kirby and L. D. Becker, "Cognitive Components of Learning Problems in Arithmetic," Remedial and Special Education, vol. 9, pp. 7-16, 1988.[9] S. A. Ostad, "Developmental differences in addition strategies: A comparison of mathematically disabled and mathematically normal children.," British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 67, pp. 345-357, 199[10] S. A. Ostad, "Developmental progression of subtraction strategies: A comparison of mathematically normal and mathematically disabled children," European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 14, pp. 21-36, 1999.[11] A. J. Wilson and S. Dehaene, "Number sense and developmental dyscalculia," in Human behavior, learning and the developing brain: Atypical development, D. Coch, G. Dawson, and K. Fischer, Eds. New York: Guilford Press, 2007.[12] B. Butterworth, "Developmental dyscalculia," in Handbook of Mathematical Cognition, J. Campbell, Ed. New York: Psychology Press, 2005.[13] O. Rubinsten and A. Henik, "Automatic Activation of Internal Magnitudes: A Study of Developmental Dyscalculia," Neuropsychology, vol. 19, pp. 641, 2005.[14] O. Rubinsten and A. Henik, "Double Dissociation of Functions in Developmental Dyslexia and Dyscalculia," Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 98, pp. 854, 2006.[15] L. Rousselle and M.-P. Noel, "Basic numerical skills in children with mathematics learning disabilities: A comparison of symbolic vs non-symbolic number magnitude processing," Cognition, vol. 102, pp. 361-395, 2007.