What is dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects an individual’s ability to perform essential mathematical functions. It does not affect their general intelligence, is not easily diagnosed, and often goes undiagnosed. It can be challenging for parents and teachers to identify dyscalculia, even when it’s present. In this article, we’ll discuss what dyscalculia is and how it presents—including some common misconceptions about dyscalculics and their struggles with math. After reading this article, you can better understand your child or student if they have dyscalculia.

What is dyscalculia, and how does it present?

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects the ability to understand and process numbers. It can make it difficult for a person to perform simple math problems; they may also need help counting, telling time and understanding spatial relationships.
Dyscalculics often have difficulty reading a clock or calendar because their brain cannot process this information quickly. They might also have trouble using money and keeping track of bills or other expenses, leading to anxiety over finances in adulthood if not addressed early on in life (or even before).

There's a lot to know about this learning disability that many people don't understand

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand numbers, perform simple arithmetic and learn mathematics. It was believed dyscalculia was caused by poor teaching methods or a lack of interest in math. However, recent research has found a significant genetic component to this condition; although poorly understood, it can also be associated with learning disabilities like ADHD or dyslexia.
There are three subtypes of dyscalculia:

  • The semantic memory subtype of dyscalculia often coexists with dyslexia and causes poor long-term memory retrieval.
  • Children with flawed procedural concepts type math disabilities may have trouble remembering facts and use less advanced problem-solving strategies. Counting techniques not related to number memory can be particularly challenging for them.
  • Research has shown that working memory issues could cause a third type of dyscalculia. Some children with dyscalculia struggle with working memory tasks compared to neurotypical children. This is due to dysfunction in the brain’s region responsible for working memory and executive function, which can also contribute to ADHD comorbidity.

Dyscalculia is not a recognised disability, but it can present as one

Dyscalculia isn’t recognised as a disability in most parts of the world, so it doesn’t qualify for special education services or accommodations at school. This doesn’t mean that students with dyscalculia don’t need extra support when they’re learning maths. Many experts believe that students with dyscalculia benefit from extended time on tests because their brains take longer than average to process numeric information.

Dyscalculics have trouble with time and timekeeping, money and counting

Dyscalculics have trouble with time and timekeeping, money and counting. They may also need help sequencing numbers and sequences of events.
Dyscalculics can be extremely frustrated by their difficulties with calculation, as they know that they are intelligent but feel unable to prove this because of their poor performance at school or work due to their poor memory for numbers.

Dyscalculia is often associated with other learning disabilities

Many different types of specific learning disabilities affect one or more areas of learning (e.g., reading). If someone has one, there is a higher chance of having another. The various types of specific learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia – difficulty processing written words
  • Dysgraphia – difficulty writing by hand (typically due to problems with fine motor skills)
  • Dyspraxia – poor coordination in performing tasks requiring precise movement or balance

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of dyscalculia and how it affects children. We also hope you can use the information to help your child at home or school if they have special needs.


Yes, dyscalculia is a disability. It is a learning disability related to difficulty understanding numbers and mathematical concepts. Whether it is legally considered a disability depends on the country you live in. In the UK, it is legally considered a disability protected under the Equality Act of 2010.

Dyscalculia is a maths-specific learning disability that affects an individual’s ability to understand numerical concepts and accurately calculate numbers. It is characterised by difficulty with counting, estimating, measuring, telling time, recalling maths-based facts, problem-solving, following directions, and organising information.

Common signs and symptoms of dyscalculia include difficulty with simple addition and subtraction, trouble with memorising mathematical facts and sequences, difficulty learning and remembering basic mathematical operations, confusion between operators, difficulty relating to numbers and expressing concepts, and difficulty estimating and organising information. Additional signs and symptoms include:

  • Struggling with telling the time.
  • Frequently reversing digits and numbers in calculations.
  • Difficulty comprehending word problems.
  • Difficulty understanding mathematical symbols and formulas.

Yes, there are different levels of dyscalculia. These levels can range from mild difficulty to more severe impairment. It is important to note that different individuals with dyscalculia may experience different levels of difficulty with learning maths and have varied levels of impairment.

Yes, someone with dyscalculia can be good at maths; however, dyscalculia affects how numbers are processed, so it is worth considering how far you are willing to take the subject. There are a variety of strategies and techniques that can be used to improve maths skills and understanding. For example,  breaking down mathematical tasks into smaller parts, using visuals, and using alternative strategies such as finger counting or number lines can all help those with dyscalculia thrive in maths.

No, dyscalculia does not affect intelligence. It is a specific learning disability related to difficulty understanding numbers and mathematical concepts. Dyscalculia does not impact an individual’s intelligence, knowledge, or academic performance.