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You might have dyscalculia, if...
14 years ago
| Blue Label

Here's some of the characteristics of dyscalculia. You don't have to "have" all of them to qualify as dyscalculic. Most don't.

* Normal or accelerated language acquisition: verbal, reading, writing. Poetic ability. Good visual memory for the printed word. Good in the areas of science (until a level requiring higher math skills is reached), geometry (figures with logic not formulas), and creative arts.

* Difficulty with the abstract concepts of time and  direction. Inability to recall schedules, and sequences of past or future events. Unable to keep track of time. May be chronically late.

* Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. Substitute names beginning with same letter.

* Inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Poor mental math ability. Poor with money and credit. Cannot do financial planning or budgeting. Checkbooks not balanced. Short term, not long term financial thinking. Fails to see big financial picture. May have fear of money and cash transactions. May be unable to mentally figure change due back, the amounts to pay for tips, taxes, etc

* When writing, reading and recalling  numbers, these common mistakes are made: number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals.

* Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Poor long term memory  (retention & retrieval) of concept mastery- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but fails all tests and quizzes.

* May be unable to comprehend or "picture" mechanical processes. Lack "big picture/ whole picture" thinking. Poor ability to "visualize or picture" the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the  geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc.

* Poor memory for the "layout" of things.  Gets lost or disoriented easily. May have a poor sense of direction, loose things often, and seem absent minded. (Remember the absent minded professor?)

* May have difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education. Difficulty sight-reading music, learning fingering to play an instrument, etc.

* May have poor athletic coordination, difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions like in aerobic, dance, and exercise classes. Difficulty remembering dance step sequences, rules for playing sports.

* Difficulty keeping score during games, or difficulty remembering how to keep score in games, like bowling, etc. Often looses track of whose turn it is during games, like cards and board games. Limited strategic planning ability for games, like chess.

Dyscalculia Checklist
14 years ago

When your child attempts maths problems does he frequently have difficulties with:

-understanding the signs: +, -, / and x
-adding numbers
-subtracting numbers
-confusion with mathematical symbols (plus/minus etc)
-the words, plus, add, add-together
-reversing numbers 15 for 51 etc
-transposing numbers i.e., 364 - 634
-times tables
-mental arithmetic
-telling the time
-inability to follow directions

Students may have difficulties with mathematics, calculations and learning number facts such as times-tables. It is important that children start developing skills with sequencing, space organisation, deduction and strategy.

A couple of dyscalculic profiles:
14 years ago

"...Her inability to do math caused lowered self-esteem, withdrawal of effort, and avoidance behaviors to anything involving numbers. She generally lacks persistence in math. She has a limited ability to estimate, cannot retain math facts, and forgets the order of procedures.  She has trouble understanding mathematical concepts. She has a limited ability to solve problems in one particular way, but gets confused when the same problem is presented in several different ways. Her  visual/perceptual/spatial problems make it difficult to express answers to a problem with paper and pencil."

"He “has always struggled to learn math.” In math class, he experiences emotional blocks and is unable to think clearly. When his frustration level peaks, he often becomes belligerent and leaves class. In addition to high anxiety, he has difficulty mastering the basic counting sequence and math facts in the four basic operations. He also experiences difficulty in placing basic facts into long-term memory, and remembering and accessing information. He depends on the “counting all” procedure using his fingers, circles, pencil marks, or other visible reminders rather than more mature counting strategies."


What is mathematics?
14 years ago

1 + 1 = 2

one + one = two

one pile of sand + one pile of sand = one pile of sand

When a child is taught that 1 + 1 = 2, it wants to know why.

Dyscalculic people often have problems understanding that one house is as many as one table - the example "3 apples + 2 bananas = ?" get's the answer "3 apples and 2 bananas", not "5 fruits".

Also linear algebra is difficult - most of the dyscalculics can't understand that the numbers grow on the right side of zero - and the "two minus = plus" rule is incomprehensible.


Often it is not the big picture that causes troubles, but to see the parts of the big picture in managable chunks.
It can be difficult to clean a very messy room, because the dyscalculic cannot see where to begin, and how it is going to make the room any tidier to clean it one thing at a time.

14 years ago

You didn't  mention not being able to dance, like in your group description. I can dance okay, if it's free style, just moving to the music, I have a fine sense of rhythm.  What I have a nearly impossible time with though, is learning specific dances, dance steps.


Diana Lee G.
14 years ago

It's good to have people telling with their own words, what's wrong The "symptoms" are not the same for all, and it might help someone to know how this is shown in others.

You are right, following certain dance steps is pretty much impossible for people with dyscalculia.
There is nothing wrong with the sense for music, rhythm, nothing wrong with one's sense of movements, one's grace and love of dance and music - but the "organized" dancing...
And that's a pity too, because there is a great joy in following certain dance steps.

Shadow Bear manages the medieval dances, when I tell him what is coming next, but it's still a big stress factor.

I wonder what it would be like to dance square dance? There is also someone calling the turns... but on the other hand, the turns are called with the "step name" like "Wheel around" and "Half tag"...


14 years ago

I mention not being able to learn the dancesteps of organized dances in my intro - not having it in the small intro message on the front page was an oversight, I  am sorry.


It's Just Wierd...
14 years ago
...I mean, I didn't know it was "Something" .  I remember going to square dances when I was little but there was no way I could figure out how the &^%$ people did it.  And I had THE worst time with times tables. Forget Algerbra. Math is why I never graduated from high school, (I got a GED when I was 21) and why I never went to college. I took courses at places here and there, but I couldn't pass the math tests . 

Could dyscalculia (sp?) be why I cannot figure out how to figure out the mathematical aspects of photography? Like how to determine the lens speed and such? My dad or a teacher'd start talking about Fstops and stuff and my brains would glaze over.

Thanks again for starting this group. I didn't know I was dealing with "Something" all these years.


Diana Lee G.
Most likely,
14 years ago

"Could dyscalculia (sp?) be why I cannot figure out how to figure out the mathematical aspects of photography? Like how to determine the lens speed and such? My dad or a teacher'd start talking about Fstops and stuff and my brains would glaze over. "

Yes, it could, I have no experience with photography, but I figure that if you are dyscalculic, like it really seems to you, right, then I would think it could affect any kind of mathematical aspects you encounter.

I knew there was something called Dyscalculia at age 39, but because of all the negatives I have gotten over the years, didn't really believe I had it, until Ket showed me the two paragraphs up above about having difficulties playing an instrument and/or read notes, and learn to dance structured dances.

But those are VERY physical PROOF which I cannot ascribe to laziness, common idiocy or disinterest - those are dyscalculia manifested in my body - I can FEEL the inability.

I do know how to read notes. I do play the piano - but I do not do those simultaneously.

Like you, Diana, I have no problem with free-dancing, I am acutely musical and have a very good sens of rythm, but cannot handle structured dancing or f.i playing drums.

Shadow Bear

So that's why I suck at Tai' Chi
14 years ago
This is awesome.  I knew I had some form of dyslexia, I just never knew it had its own name.

Does dyscalculia include the unfortunate problem of "loosing" words; e.g. the white grainy stuff in the shaker because one can't come up with the word "salt" at a given moment?

Does dyscalculia also include having foreground/background problems?  I have a hard time picking out a particular sign if there are a group of signs.

Just wondering?

Peace & blessings,

14 years ago
Err sorry guys but I loved dancing it was my favorite thing to do and I could dance any dance, but it took a while learning before I got it right then I never forgot the dance.   I suppose I was lucky as dancing runs in mums side of the family and I love rhythm to follow.
But others things I was hopeless in.
Love Christine
  Peter can't dance at all.  Never could get the hang of it.
14 years ago

Christine, no need to be sorry, some of dyscalculics have problems with all of these things, and several other similar things, some have only problems with couple of these things. And as said, mainly it's finding the way of learning things, the way AROUND the difficulties.

Shadow Bear can play piano. He learns the pieces by heart. He can't play by the notes, so he learns to play the pieces by listening and copying. 
So I suppose there is something similar with you and dancing - you have found a way to learn that works, so you just dance, and don't think about step sequences and dance as a series of steps, but as a whole. Am I right?


Marge, yes.
We just talked about martial arts, SB and I - it's like dancing. And Tai Chi is martial art Not very martial, I agree

Yes, "the white grainy stuff" is pretty typical - one of the "symptomps" is difficulty in remembering names, not only names of people, but names of things too. So, it's pretty nice to have such a great linguistic talent, so that you can easily replace words with descriptions or something that sounds similar.
I actually "have" this symptom

Also the problems of seeing trees from the forest is very typical. SB has this with sounds too - he cannot separate one sound from others, so he can't hear what people say in parties with a lot of people talking, glasses and china sounding and music playing...

Also the need to have very clean and tidy studying papers tell about this. I can write things all over a paper, fill in every little space there is with writing, and the writing doesn't have to do with anything else on the paper, I still have no problems in reading and comprehending and seeing clearly that these things doesn't connect, but SB has to have one thing on one piece of paper, and the text and numbers has to be in order and preferably marked clearly and visibly, so that it is easy to see what is on the paper. He loves marking pens.


Diana, yes, the "mathematical aspects of photography" - speeds and lights and seconds and lenses... the relations of things.
One of the difficult things for dyscalculics are convertions. As said before, the metric system, or "one inch on the map is one mile in nature" and other things like this.


Then there is the logic...
Logical thinking is easy, but understanding logic is not
- it might show as difficulties in reading and comprehending i.e. law texts and very "papery" language, "dry office talk" and other "purely logical and scientific" things.
It might be difficulties in following the "if this and that, then so" -logical thinking.
So sometimes people cannot follow your thoughts or the way you explain, because it is not "logical". People sometimes think you are confused and muddled.


P.S. Keep coming with personal experiences about these matters The amount of "normal, usual everyday matters" that are difficult to dyscalculics is enorm!
It is hard to comprehend how "such simple things" can be very difficult to anyone, sometimes virtually impossible. Just because of dyscalculia.

Found this one :-)
14 years ago

So fascinating

Among other things it gives examples on how some of the dyscalculics and people with math problems see the world, for us, who don't have difficulties And it really works


Signs of dyscalculia
14 years ago

A typical picture is that of a competent child that rather unexpectedly shows signs of serious difficulties of one or more of the sorts just described.

It is rather frequent that children with dyscalculia have had, or have, difficulties in learning to read a clock, its taking a long time for them to learn it.

For anyone who has learned to read a clock, doing so usually appears simple. Yet reading a clock calls for many different functions. The first to be done is to note the position of the hands. Thereafter one needs to figure out in one’s head what time it is. It cannot be read off the clock that it is twenty to two in the afternoon or that it is five after nine in the morning.

Reading the time off a clock with hands also requires that one have good visual perception, a good working memory and an adequate linguistic understanding of time concepts.

For many children with dyscalculia, reading the time off a clock with hands can be considerably more difficult than reading it off a digital clock, since the latter involves simply reading off the digits from left to right. Reading off 01.40 is easy enough. Certain difficulties remain, nevertheless, since there is no indication on the clock that this means twenty to two. That is a transformation one needs to do oneself.

Difficulties in reading clocks are not the only problems other than those of math itself with which children with dyscalculia are faced while growing up. Many of them are also poor in time perception. This can be reflected in their having difficulties in estimating the time which an hour or a day represents. This in turn can have a negative effect on their ability to plan and thus on how they get things done generally. Weaknesses in time perception can in part be a matter of having difficulties in grasping the sequence involved in a particular course of events

We do not have any inborn, innate feeling for time. Rather, this is developed and maintained through constant practice. The latter allows us to gradually learn how much we will succeed in doing in the course of an hour, for example. Learning about such time-related matters is never complete, however, as our basic knowledge of how to cycle, swim or wash dishes is. The continual practice we get enables our time-planning ability to develop and be maintained.  

Difficulties in time perception lead to serious problems when a child needs to plan his/her activities, such as studying or doing homework. Such problems are particularly marked when school-related tasks are to be done not for the following day but by some time say two weeks ahead. One should nevertheless emphasize that many pupils overestimate the time they have available for various tasks without this necessarily meaning that they suffer from dyscalculia. Children with dyscalculia are not only prone to problems of time perception, but also have difficulties in imagining in what order various tasks should be carried out.

Everyday problems for the child with dyscalculia manifest themselves, however, not only in the planning of homework and the like, but also in planning generally, even in such concrete situations as the child’s planning how to clean and cleaning his/her own room. Many children with dyscalculia have a need of a clear structure in their everyday life, although few of them, unfortunately, actively seek help in this respect.

14 years ago
I had many of these symptoms as a child, and it terrified me to have to go to the board to do problems in front of the class.  I have overcome these problems because I had to, and somehow in middle school began taking advanced math courses.  I still have trouble with transpositions and I still can't calculate anything in my head.  It also takes me twice as long to finish a math exam than it does my classmates.  But I am chugging along taking MAT182-Trigonometry.  So there's hope, people! 
Just wondering ...
14 years ago
Is it typical for dyscalculics to do better in geometry?  Could associating number with shape be helpful?


P.S. Something in common:  I have one of those "timeless" minds too.  If I lose myself in space, it's usually an amnesia type thing.  I've been lost in time most of my life.

14 years ago

Firestarter...It is and was for me. I found Geometry to be too easy and other math to be a nightmare.

My Fibromyalgia has made all this far worse. I'm stunned by the symptom overlap. Found an awesome site from and educational institution:

Not only do the lay it all out in black and white (literally!), but they also offer practical real world solutions to help.

how come it makes me add a new subject?
13 years ago
ok that being said, I'm processing all this and wondering about two things. #1 individual differences. I just so hate categories, while recognizing they are useful. But hey who ever heard of someone apologizing for being able to dance!? (tee hee...)

So, that's what categories do to us.

but anyway... I'm 'slow' in math, meaning I do it slowly. That always affected ny testing in school but I got good scores on the parts of the tests that I could finish!

I want to learn more. I've also been told by students that I am very helpful to their maths. I teach and explain from different angles. Whoever said that about needing more books by dyscalc authors -- hear ya! What is annoying to me as a teacher is all the books that are written by people who come naturally to the sequentially ordered bulding blocks approach and they 'don't get it' that *anyone* else can't 'get it'!!!

And so...

Here's my take on Algebra: it's a way of problem solving in which we take a large or complex problem & break it into smaller, understandable parts. Then we solve the known (understandable) parts and put it back together to solve the whole. As a concept it is a very useful skill -- the problem solving approach.

so, rambling on here, here's my second question.

An ex of mine (with whom I am still close) is dyslex & dyscalc. I have lately been wondering how much the dyscalc affects relationships. It's so cool I ran upon this care2 group. Maybe no one has answers but the website links are nice! So when you get frustrated with someone and find yourself inner-shouting "DO THE MATH!" (about relationships)... then.. isn't that a sign of where to look for the issue?

luv yas
13 years ago

Wow - I am so glad I found this group. Like others, I always knew there was something off, especially with math and following instructions. No one could understand that I could pick up the violin, listen and then play but couldn't learn to read the music.

I'm artistic as heck as long as I don't have to read the instructions. My family has realized for years that I can't grasp some things - can't do my own taxes but I can do loom beadwork that is amazing. I can't remember directions and have to keep them written down but chart off the scale with my reading ability in the 7th grade.

Thanks for forming the group, its good to know others go through some of this and I'm not just "math stupid."

13 years ago
Hi Dana, welcome
13 years ago
An ex of mine (with whom I am still close) is dyslex & dyscalc. I have lately been wondering how much the dyscalc affects relationships. It's so cool I ran upon this care2 group. Maybe no one has answers but the website links are nice! So when you get frustrated with someone and find yourself inner-shouting "DO THE MATH!" (about relationships)... then.. isn't that a sign of where to look for the issue?"

In my marriage - I am the dyscalculic - it has taken some time to figure out some things. First of all I didn't know I was dyscalculic, and that it affected other areas than my ability to do math, until three years into the relationship.

Yes, had we known that it affects one's ability to 'see individual trees in the forrest' and therefore make me lousy at initiate tasks that require either multitasking or 'sorting' - such as cleaning, much grief could have been spared. Much grief could also have been spared us if we had understood that my being dyscalulic makes me lousy at keeping track of my spending and the 'value' of money.

Likewise, my inability to learn how to dance - i.e tasks that are 'sequenced' that has affected our reletionship somewhat.

But the really big one is my tendency to 'overcompensate' - I think I am stupid, so I try to make up for this by being a lot of other things, thinking that I have to be 'all that' in anything else, because I am 'stupid at math'.

Like Ket just said - "it's hard to try and be equal with someon who is lying on the ground and kicking himself".

Personally I think feeling inferior is the biggie - Ket's a math whiz-kid, and it hard for me to not feel inferior and wonder what the heck she sees in me - especially as I am 'inferior' in such a 'traditionally male' subject as math.

It's hard work. Every day.

12 years ago

Difficulty learning to read time?...pheeeeeew. LOL..........

It's how I learned to tell time that might be funny(or stupid?)!I hated to look at the classroom clock,until one day,someone asked me what time it was.  The schoolbell rang,and I accidentally looked at the clock,knowing school finished at 3:00pm,I  learned how to read 3:00pm,by looking at where the short hand and long hand were.

12 years ago

Thanks this is great, I am not alone! Lucky my spacial awareness gets me through!

A xo

dyscalculia and dance
8 years ago

I have recently discovered that I have dyscalculia.  I have been exibiting some of the symptoms my whole life, but until recently, did not know that dyscalculia ever existed.  This has been a source of not getting to learn the wonderful language of math.  Typically, when I look at equasion, the numbers move around on the page or invert themselves, or make some type of pattern (for example, all of the number 2's will look bolder).

I can figure out the answers to written mathematical questions, but have to take a different route usually based in percentages.

I had an amazing professor in college who opened up my mind by telling me that as long as I knew how I got to the answer and the answer was correct, it didnt matter that I couldnt see the equasion.  Hope this helps other out there.

My question is this:  has anyone discovered any methods to help with dance?  I have studied flamenco for the last 8 years and am still having trouble with direction and seeing where the body is supposed to be in time, and the trajectory it has to take to get there.  This dance form takes an enormous amount of time to learn at any rate, but I would like to start exploring different ways of learning that can help with overcoming the sequence memory and direction problems.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.


I think I might have dyscalculia
6 years ago

This message board topic is two years old but someone might reply. I never was diagnosed with dyscalculia but I have always had trouble with math, most specifically basic math. My sister and I have had trouble reading analog clocks since we were children, I finally learned to read it, but I find its easier to look at a digital one. I am now in my early 20's and in college and I cant do mental math I have to write out adding and subtraction and most division. I learned to multiply in summer school when I was in 4th grade because I was teased, however I have since forgotten most of the multiples and my sister doesn't know most of them. In college my sister and I had to take the basic math to get into college algebra and in that class the teacher was nice enough to work with me closely and let me stay outside of the class allotted class time to finish up most of the test and I passed the class with a surprising A. I am majoring in culinary and I have had trouble with conversions and the other math aspects of the field, here I also had to work closely with my professor, I made low scores on the math portion in those classes. I am also taking a photography class where we have to deal with chemicals and we had to fill one tray with a chemical to a ratio of like 1:7 and I was like what does that even mean,so I had some one help me with that,even though I went through a workshop for help with ratios in high school, in order to pass the state test I had failed the math portion on. Also we cant have digital clocks in the dark room so we have to watch the second hand to know when to remove the paper from the chemicals and I couldn't grasp that concept, I became confused so I asked my professor, he helped me but I kept getting it wrong, I was so embarrassed. I also got confused on the intervals of when to agitate the film for 30 sec then place the container down every five seconds and I was doing it everytime the hand hit a five and he told me that I was doing it wrong and to tighten up on it. I was nervous which didn't help any. I now just count for the seconds in my head in the dark room instead of looking at the clock. I feel stupid because I should know this stuff. Through out my school years I have had my teachers and even my friends help me with reading a ruler and I would go practice it but after a day the material I thought I learned would escape me so I would be back at square one so I am sorta afraid of using a ruler. For the life of me I cant remember my left and right, neither can my sister, I have to pick up my writing hand to remember what is right and left,This affects my driving when people give me directions like turn left here. I am not sure if I should get tested at school for this disability since I am done with math subjects,however I would feel better knowing if I could put a name to this problem. I excel at reading,history and science that doesn't require much math. I also cant follow choreography but I dance pretty well free style.

This post was modified from its original form on 24 Sep, 22:56

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