What is Mathematics Disorder?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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A mathematics disorder is a learning disorder in which a person, often a child, will have problems learning math skills and using them in everyday life. This disorder sometimes goes hand in hand with another learning disorder like dyslexia or dysgraphia, but other times an individual may be considered average or even above average in other areas. Many times, this condition will be diagnosed early in life and is known as dyscalculia. Another type of mathematic disorder, however, is known as acalculia, which is typically diagnosed well into adulthood after some type of neurological trauma.

Many experts believe that there are two types of mathematics disorders. Individuals with mathematical computation disorder often have trouble solving simple math problems, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Those with mathematical reasoning disorder mainly have trouble understanding and using mathematical reasoning skills to solve everyday problems. People with mathematical reasoning disorder, for example, may not understand how to calculate the square footage of a room.


There are a number of signs and symptoms of a mathematics disorder. The most obvious ones can include difficulty in such things as counting, recognizing and writing numbers, and calculating simple arithmetic. Also, an individual with a mathematics disorder may also reverse numbers. He may see the number "92" as "29," and math signs and symbols, such as addition and subtraction signs, may be confusing to him or he may substitute one for the other. Other signs and symptoms of these types of disorders may include things like trouble telling time or the inability to distinguish left from right.

Dyscalculia is generally recognized during elementary school, either by a teacher or by a parent. Children who have a mathematics disorder may, however, scoot by until either middle or high school before a problem is recognized. These students often have above average intelligence in areas such as reading or writing.

When a mathematics disorder is suspected, the student will usually be given standardized math tests. These are used to determine his mathematical ability compared to other students his age. Psychological testing may also be done to rule out any other mental disorders, such as mental retardation, autism, and ADHD. If he tests well below average on the math portions of the tests and other neurological disorders are ruled out, he is usually diagnosed with a mathematics disorder.

Treatment for mathematics disorders is often successful. Many educators and psychologists believe that catching and treating the problem early is the key to success, and there seems to be evidence to support this. Often, students with a math disability will be placed in special education classes or remedial math. Special tutors may also help them get a better grasp on the subject. If caught early enough, a mathematics disorder may not pose much of a problem later in life.


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Post 2

@Grivusangel -- We must be sisters by another mother! I hated algebra too, and passed it with a C. I was glad to get that C! When I sat for my first class of college algebra, I got nauseated and left. I dropped the class and ended up taking some bonehead math class that got the math credit out of the way so I could get my degree!

My dad taught special education and he did have a student who had a real mathematics disorder, so anything beyond 2+2 was a mystery to him. My dad did his best, and finally taught him to count money, and said that was a real victory. He taught him a useful life skill and said if he could do that, he would consider the student a success. That's how you have to look at it, I suppose.

Post 1

I'd say I have a mathematics disorder, but I can do arithmetic, and I can do very simple formulas, like calculate the square footage of a room. I wonder if it also applies to doing anything beyond basic math, like algebra? Algebra was a complete disaster for me. I was completely lost after about the first grading period and it just got worse as the class went on.

Finally, the other algebra teacher at my high school took me under her wing. She took up her planning period every day for six weeks to tutor me one on one. I never would have understood a thing otherwise, and I'd have had to go to summer school because I was failing

. Because of her tutelage, I made an 88 on the final and passed by one point. I never was so glad to get a 65 in my life! it was the only bad grade I made in high school. It was awful.

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