Is dyscalculia real, and if so how can those with dyscalculia be helped?
Twenty years ago when my colleagues and I started the Dyscalculia Information Centre we did so because we realised many people were becoming aware of dyscalculia, either because they felt it could explain their own failings at maths, or those of their own children, or indeed the young people they were teaching, but at the same time didn’t have access to much non-technical information on the subject.
Many wanted more information about what dyscalculia is, and what can be done about. Others wanted to know if it was just an excuse, having heard on social media that it didn’t really exist at all! Yet others wanted to know about the legal issues: are schools, universities and employers legally obliged to provide exam exemptions or support for people with dyscalculia?
We quickly realised that at the time it was quite hard to find out very much about dyscalculia in order to answer questions such as these. There were a few books published on the topic, but they tended for the most part to be academic in nature rather than of direct practical benefit to parents, teachers, or adults who felt they might have dyscalculia.
Thus our approach has been to work with everyone who comes across dyscalculia in one way or another, to help them understand what dyscalculia is, help those they teach overcome the problems dyscalculia bring, and also help establish if a person is likely to have dyscalculia, before spending substantial sums on a full-blown assessment undertaken by a psychologist.
Inevitably our work has taken us beyond maths. For just as a difficulty in using the written language has implications for many aspects of life, so does a difficulty with using maths cause problems throughout daily existence. Problems with dates, money (even in the days of credit card, the account still needs to be checked), time, distances, learning sequences, even geography…
Over time the Dyscalculia Centre has found its place in the order of things, providing classroom materials, low-cost testing, and information where required. And where we find we have often been asked the same question, we’ve tried to write a free briefing paper to provide the answer. The main areas of our work are listed at the top of each page on our website. Briefing papers are listed under “Latest articles” on the home page.
Of course many people want to know if they themselves, those they teach, or their own children are dyscalculic, and we offer help with this.
For others the prime question relates to colleges and universities which require maths at a certain grade for a student can be admitted on a course, and how students who are dyscalculic can be helped in this regard.
We also get many questions relating to what the law says about dyscalculia and education and employment – hence our article “Special Needs and the Law”.
Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A,. M.Phil (Lond) F.Inst.A.M
The Dyscalculia Centre