For many people, math is a difficult subject that they would rather not bother with. For some, however, it is a subject that creates great anxiety, because a surprising number if people, an estimated 5% of the population, suffer from dyscalculia (or number dyslexia). Whether it is a developmental condition or it is caused due to brain trauma, number dyslexia can make it seem nearly impossible to complete even simple math problems.
People who suffer from number dyslexia may excel in some math subjects such as geometry and some sciences, because these subjects involve a high level of logic. However, subjects like calculus, physics, and chemistry that require knowledge of formulae and the reading of numbers, are much more difficult.
Common symptoms of number dyslexia include:
- Confusing the signs for division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction.
- Difficulty doing everyday tasks such as reading analog clocks, counting change, and balancing a checkbook.
- Inability to grasp formulas, rules, and concepts.
- Difficulty conceptualizing time. Sufferers are chronically late or early, and are a poor judge of how long a task will take them to complete.
- May have difficulties telling left from right.
- Inability to read a sequence of numbers quickly, trouble memorizing number sequences (such as phone numbers) or transposing numbers (43 becomes 34).
- Difficulty telling the distance or measurement of something, such as having poor spatial awareness or misjudging the size or weight of objects.
- Poor face/name recognition (can recognize faces easily, but have a very hard time remembering names.)
While number dyslexia can cause a variety of problems for students and even adults, sufferers of this condition often make up for it by excelling in other subjects, as most people with dyscalculia are extremely proficient in writing and language-based subjects. Because of their poor performance in math-related subjects, sufferers of number dyslexia may develop an anxiety or phobia of having to do math.
If you suspect your child may be suffering from number dyslexia, speak with an experienced health care professional for more information. While this can be a very frustrating learning disability, specialized tutoring in the subjects that are causing the most problems can help the student develop ways of learning math that are tailored to their unique needs and may help them improve their grades and become more comfortable with the subject.