Could My Child Have a Math Disorder?

Does your child struggle with math homework and have difficulty grasping simple math concepts? Have you seen them use their fingers to keep track of numbers when counting? Can you hear your child talking aloud and reasoning through math problems while still having trouble?  These could be signs of a specific type of learning disorder or math disorder, also known as dyscalculia. Other signs you can look for are watching to see if your child draws pictures to represent math problems and if they are not grasping concepts like biggest and smallest. They may also have trouble with making a connection between the symbol for ‘5,’ the word five, and five objects.

What Causes a Math Disorder?

Research has shown that dyscalculia might be related to genetics, brain injury, prematurity, low birth weight, and/or differences in the brain. We do know that dyscalculia can make things difficult at school and in life, and that it’s a life-long condition. Some learning experts believe that dyscalculia is as common as dyslexia, a reading disability.  And many children who struggle with one type of learning disability often have a co-occurring learning disability.

How Does Dyscalculia Impact Learning?

Dyscalculia is typically related to working memory. This is the ability to hold information in mind while manipulating it for problems solving. Since many mathematical operations require recalling math facts and operations (a working memory skill), students with dyscalculia struggle with this skill. They may not be able to progress in math without some additional support, even when their intelligence is high and they do well on other subjects.

Here is a partial list of many of the math processes and concepts that students may struggle to master:

  • Processing directions
  • Understanding how problems are laid out
  • Time and money
  • Three-dimensional objects and representations
  • Rapid visual stimuli
  • Sequencing
  • Measuring
  • Biggest and smallest
  • Holding numbers in memory for multiple steps

What Can I Do If My Child Has a Math Disorder?

If you suspect that your child may have dyscalculia, you can request psychoeducational evaluation through the school or privately.

Educators and other learning professionals use many different strategies for helping students with dyscalculia including math games, apps, and software. Additionally, special education teachers and tutors can be instrumental in helping students make progress. Parents can help with extra practice when doing things at home like playing board games that involve math or practicing in real life, like when paying at the store and asking for change. Parent support is particularly important for addressing the learning challenges associated with a math disorder.

When everyone works together, students with dyscalculia can thrive in school and in life. To learn more about math disorder or dyscalculia evaluations, contact us for your free consultation. We serve families in San Diego North County, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido and surrounding cities.

Paradox Psych Services is a child and teen therapy center with two locations in Carlsbad: Bressi Ranch and Aviara. Our child therapists at Bressi Ranch are also near San Marcos. We offer an action and goal oriented approach with skilled therapists that have earned the highest achievable degree in their field. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free phone consultation. 

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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