What is Dyscalculia?

Junior pupil by the blackboard is solving mathematical problems

What is Dyscalculia? 

Dyscalculia is a stem from dyslexia where a person has trouble with numeracy, arithmetic and mathematical concepts.


People with dyscalculia may experience the following:


  • Difficulty with planning, scheduling and being on time
  • Finding it hard to recognise digits
  • Having trouble with placing values
  • Difficulty with following timetables and meeting deadlines at school, college, university or work
  • Trouble with memorising different kinds of number such as prices or telephone numbers
  • Difficulty with carrying on from and borrowing from numbers in equations
  • Struggling to tell the time on analogue clocks
  • Trouble with counting backwards
  • Getting digits back to front
  • Frequently repeating digits too often
  • Missing digits
  • Forgetting mathematical procedures, especially more complex ones such as long division
  • Weak mental arithmetic skills
  • High levels of maths anxiety
  • Performing calculations more slowly than others
  • Having a poor sense of number and estimation



Students who have dyscalculia at school, college and university can have trouble with maths lessons while adults who have it can struggle with tasks such as budgeting, driving (e.g. recording mileage or calculating distance), cooking (e.g. knowing the quantities of ingredients for a recipe or what oven temperature to use), DIY or home maintenance (e.g. reading measurements on tape measures), reading transportation timetables and helping their children with their homework.


Dyscalculia can co-occur with ordinary dyslexia. It can be caused by an abnormally developed part of the brain that “deals with mathematical contexts.” Drinking alcohol during pregnancy and premature birth are also thought to be responsible for causing dyscalculia.


Parents who are concerned that their children may have dyscalculia can discuss this with the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) at the child’s educational facility or their GP. Extra maths coaching or tuition may be beneficial with children who have dyscalculia. Children who have suspected dyscalculia need to be referred to an educational psychologist by relevant school staff, such as SENCOs.


The following websites have screening tests for teenagers and adults to determine if they have dyscalculia. Please note that these screening tests should only be used as indicators of dyscalculia, not formal diagnoses.


Dyslexic.com: https://www.dyslexic.com/product/dyscalculia-screener/ (Note: The cost of this ranges from £30.00 – £600.00.


Exceptional Individuals: https://exceptionalind.typeform.com/to/iLxUk6 (Note: This screening test is free.)


Teenagers and adults who have taken any of the above tests may wish to book an appointment with their GP to discuss the results. The GP may then refer them to an educational psychologist through the British Dyslexia Foundation. Since the NHS do not classify dyscalculia as a medical issue, a test with an educational psychologist can cost £450.00.


Other Sources


Dyslexic.com’s What is Dyscalculia? https://www.dyslexic.com/blog/what-is-dyscalculia/


British Dyslexia Association’s page on dyscalculia: https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexia/neurodiversity-and-co-occurring-differences/dyscalculia-and-maths-difficulties


Dyscalculia Blog’s Do You Have Dyscalculia And How Do You Get A Diagnosis: https://dyscalculia-blog.com/2017/09/26/dyscalculia-get-diagnosis/


Patoss article Dyscalculia: What parents need to know: https://www.patoss-dyslexia.org/news/Page-3/dyscalculia-what-parents-need-to-know/214244


Send Your CV