Dyscalculia: Cannot Compute
Let’s talk about a certain subject that I despise with a passion, so much so that just the thought of it sends me into a mental shutdown, yes ladies and gentlemen I’m talking about math. And for the longest time I thought that it was because I just wasn’t cut out for doing math, and even though I could do everything else with little to no problem, I just couldn’t do math.
So in 8th grade I decided to try and get to the bottom of this mess (because hello? Basic algebra was hell for me, but it was easy for everybody else), and that’s when I came across a little known learning disorder known as dyscalculia.
Now I’m pretty sure that almost everybody is familiar with the learning disability (I hate that term) dyslexia right? Well dyscalculia is its lesser known compadre (of sorts).
While dyslexia is more focused on the reading aspect ( you know, the letters moving, switching around, disappearing), dyscalculia pertains more to math, and the inability to grasp concepts or even understand numbers.
Now why have I not been professionally diagnosed with dyscalculia even after this long? Because research for the learning disability is almost 30 years behind, possibly due to the fact that only 6 to 7 percent of elementary school kids have the disorder, and, as in my case, because of lack of awareness, both my self-esteem and grades have suffered.
So how do you know if you have dyscalculia, well, in a world that’s highly dependent on math, the likelihood of it getting diagnosed is slim, but there are a few telltale signs;
- Using fingers to count instead of using more sophisticated measures.
For example, I have extreme difficulty solving addition problems and frequently find myself using my fingers (secretly because it’s embarrassing) to solve a basic equation such as 7+9. Either that or I use a calculator.
- Having difficulty recalling basic math facts, such as, say, 6+8.
I can’t remember most of my times tables, due both to the synesthesia and the dyscalculia.
- Having trouble setting up math equations and then figuring out how to solve them.
- Has trouble identifying analog time.
- Struggling to understand math related terms (sum, average, greater than, etc.)
While these are just a few of the many symptoms, these are some of the ones I’ve noticed in myself, and truth be told, it’s hard growing up with something that you never knew you had, and being treated like less because of that.
So do yourself and your kids a favor, try to understand them when they say, “The letters are moving,” or “The notes disappeared off the page”. They’re probably not just making it up, they know better than anyone that something is wrong with them, all you need to do is listen.
If anyone else deals with this disorder and has coping skills I’d love to hear from them!