Dyscalculia - How to Manage this Disability with Numbers
Living with Dyscalculia
I have Dyscalculia - sometimes I refer to it as numeric dyslexia which people "get" more easily. The picture opposite demonstrates how my brain feels when I see numbers - the numbers are not necessarily upside down but I cannot understand them.
Having Dyscalculia means:
- I do not see or understand patterns with numbers
- Dial or press incorrect numbers repeatedly
- Record telephone or other numbers in the wrong order or incorrectly
- answer multiple choice questions to which I know the answer backwards - thus getting an incorrect score
- Failing tests
- Inability to understand and manage finances and financial reports
- Inability to create statistical information and reports.
I am able to add up numbers, but subtraction, multiplication and anything beyond simple and basic math is a serious challenge.
When I was in school, although Dyscalculia was known about, it was not recognized in my case and I was sent to the "stupid" class. Really, that was what the class was called by students and teachers. Sadly because I could not pass math I was not permitted to attend the art class - ironically later in life I trained as an expressive art therapist and have spent my professional life in mostly creative situations film making, writing, researching and as an art therapist.
As an adult I have managed to overcome the limitations by being upfront with friends, my family and my employers. When I have tried to "cheat" and look like I have known what I was doing such as submitting stats without help, they have come back to my desk. My supervisor is very understanding and patient - I am good with people and they didn't hire me for my math skills! However somedays I can still feel "stupid" .
I have learned to be very precise about how much I spend and rely on cash and paying my bills automatically on line. I do not use a credit card other than a prepaid one.
Professionally, I have attended and passed Myers Briggs in the Workplace Facilitation. However, I cannot pass the statistical component of the test to administer Myers Briggs personality type tests. Therefore I co-facilitate Myers Briggs workshops and testing.
I am always on time and usually early. One of my adapted strengths has been to always allow more time than I need - being late is very stressful for me and it has to do with the numbers rather than the social aspect. Although that is important too.
Definition of Dyscalculia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyscalculia - states that:
Dyscalculia (also called math disability or numlexia) is a specific learning disability involving difficulty in learning or comprehending math. It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts, and a number of other related symptoms. Math disabilities can also occur as the result of some types of brain injury, in which case the proper term is acalculia. to distinguish it from dyscalculia which is of innate, genetic or developmental origin.
Although math learning difficulties do occur in children with low iq dyscalculia also affects people from across the whole IQ range, and sufferers often, but not always, also have difficulties with time, measurement, and spatial reasoning Estimates of the prevalence of dyscalculia range between 3 and 6% of the population.
Getting a Diagnosis for Dyscalculia
Sad to say that Dyscalculia is still oftentimes overlooked and a student struggling with math may not be offered testing for this. The screening tool at http://www.dyscalculie.com/dlbin/dyscalculia_screener_manual.pdf offers a 30 minute test that can be adminisitered by an appropriate professional for children ages 6 to 14 years.
For adults, testing is more complex but some professional educational psychologists can do testing specifically for this disability.
Why Testing or Diagnosis Can be Important
Testing for Dyscalculia is important because it can bring in extra financial dollars for additional school help and or tutoring outside of school depending on the country, province or state in which you live.
A formal diagnosis will also assist later in life at university or college to provide accommodations that will help the student take a test successfully. This may be more time, an aide such as a calculator or forumula sheet, verbal testing, or a written summary of the subject rather than multiple choice.