Dyscalculia – number dyslexia

An image of rows of numbers disappearing into the distance

Dyscalculia, also known as “math LD” or “math disability,” is a learning disability affecting an individual’s ability to perform arithmetic calculations.

The term was coined by American paediatrician Dr Benets in the early 1900s.

Dyscalculia affects about 5% of the population, and it is more prevalent in males than females, although there is still very little known about dyscalculia compared to other neurodiverse conditions such as autism. It’s possible be that females present with different symptoms and challenges as a result of dyscalculia. 

Dyscalculia is often referred to as “number dyslexia”, and there are some differences and similarities between the two.

Dyslexia is a cognitive disorder that affects one’s ability to read, write, and/or spell words. It is most commonly thought to be the result of the brain not being able to process language.

Dyscalculia is a developmental disorder in mathematics. Unlike dyslexia, it has more than one specific cause and is often accompanied by other neurodiverse diverse conditions.

Causes of dyscalculia can include:

  • genetic inheritance
  • brain injury
  • traumatising events happening in very early childhood

Individuals who have dyscalculia are likely to experience something known as number blindness, where processing any kind of numerical data or processes can be a huge challenge for them.

Individuals may experience challenges with reading analogue clocks and managing money, particularly cash or working out sale discounts.

As with other neurodiverse conditions individuals who have dyscalculia also have many strengths due to their unique brain difference, these strengths include but are not limited to:

  • problem-solving
  • creativity
  • good use of words
  • highly motivated

Dyscalculia is not linked to a person’s intellectual ability.