Moms, did you know kids can have numbers ‘dyslexia’?

Dyscalculia (pronounced dis·cal·koo·lee·a) is a mathematics learning disorder characterised, among other things, by the difficulty in acquiring number sense and calculation.

But what exactly does this mean?

On a day-to-day basis, it can translate into misreading the time on a watch or car license plate, as well as having difficulty memorising phone numbers, number sequences or calculating the return on a purchase.

Dyscalculia is not the same as dyslexia, which involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words.

ALSO SEE: What is apraxia of speech?

According to Smartick global research, about 5-7% of a country’s population may suffer in silence from dyscalculia. That means that in a class of 25 students, it’s likely that at least one child has the learning disorder. For a population of 57+ million in South Africa, and if similar percentages are anything to go by, it could equate to around 4 million people potentially being misdiagnosed.

It’s unknown waters

Smartick co-founder, Javier Arroyo says dyscalculia is a disorder with serious consequences and high prevalence, but unknown among many children, parents and educators.

“Dyscalculia tends to be confused with other disorders such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), low IQ or even study laziness. While it can result in failure in the mathematics subject, although not always the case, it can translate into real life difficulties that cause frustration and low-self-esteem,” he says.

ALSO SEE: Could my Grade 1 child have ADHD? Here’s what you should look out for

How would I know if my child has this disorder?

Smartick, an AI-based maths, coding and logic e-learning programme for kids aged 4 – 14, has launched a free standardised online assessment that allows for quick and easy identification of children at risk of dyscalculia.

The free standardised online assessment takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and includes tasks around three fundamental areas of mathematical learning: comparison and recognition of numbers, arabic numerals and numbering and arithmetic.

“The exercises for each evaluate the ability to recognise and manipulate numerical quantities without counting, and numerical processing that use verbal symbolic code, such as number recognition and comparison. Children with dyscalculia often have severe and persistent difficulties in learning arithmetic,” says Arroyo.

At the end of the assessment, a report is immediately generated and sent with your child’s strengths and weaknesses in each of the evaluated areas. If, according to the results, your child is at risk of dyscalculia, it’s recommended that you go to a professional for a complete evaluation, which includes psychological tests for intelligence, attention and reading, in addition to specific tests for maths.

“Children with dyscalculia need adapted, daily training based on a deep understanding of concepts and procedures. Your child might be the next Bill Gates and can help change the world, but he’s misdiagnosed and misunderstood,” adds Arroyo.

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