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Why constant maths study is essential for dyscalculics?

by Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A., M.Phil (Lond), F.Inst.A.M.

People with dyscalculia lack the automatic awareness of what maths means in relation to the world around them.  And as such they need help every day in working on maths.

This can seem awfully unfair on a young person who is suffering from anxiety and worry about maths, for it can seem that while everyone else is having a holiday, that person needs to keep studying the one subject they really can't stand!

But to make real progress a person with dyscalculia needs to work with a friend, relative or teacher for about 15 minutes a day - ideally every day of the week.   That helper must be competent at maths but doesn't need to be a specialist maths teacher.  The person you or your child are working with should be at least average in maths ability and not have any feeling that she or he has any sign of dyscalculia.

The alternative approach is to start by taking our on line test (you'll find details on our home page).  If we find that you are, in our opinion, likely to have dyscalculia we'll send you suitable materials free of charge so that you can again work with a friend who can help you.

So in answer to the question at the top of the page is no, try to keep going in the holidays, just as you would in the term time.

The issue of anxiety

Many people - children, teenagers and adults - who suffer from dyscalculia also suffer from anxiety and worry whenever they are faced with maths.  This is of course very understandable as for most of us it is very hard to understand why we can't do something or can't understand something, that everyone else seems to be able to grasp.

Of course if we are visiting a foreign country and everyone is speaking in a language we don't know - that's understandable at once - they were brought up to speak the language.

But surely everyone is able to understand maths?

The answer is no, a small number of people find that whereas the majority can grasp basic maths fairly quickly they can't.  And when there is not explanation around as to why this is the case, the anxiety can click in.

Of course it would be inappropriate for me to try and offer on-line advice on coping with anxiety, and if the case is extreme it might be worth seeing your doctor.   But the fact is that for many people, simply knowing that she or he has dyscalculia, and that the failure to learn basic maths is not because the individual is stupid or just being difficult or not paying attention, can be a great relief.

Where this knowledge is accompanied by a sympathetic parent, friend or teacher who appreciates that dyscalculia is something that a number of people are born with, and it is no one's fault, life can take on a much better perspective.

So once again, in my view, it is always better to act sooner, rather than later.

Want to ask a question?

I can't guarantee to be able to help, and normally it is not possible to give help just from the description of a particular symptom, but if do have a question about dyscalculia, and it has not been answered on this site, do write to me and I'll try and write back as fast as possible (usually within a couple of days) and give my thoughts.   But please do remember I can't offer a diagnosis of dyscalculia simply from a list of symptoms.

Just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

But if I may return to my main theme.  If you have a worry about yourself, a friend, or a member of your family, it is always better to start looking into this sooner rather than later.

Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A., M.Phil (Lond). F.Inst.A.M.