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Published: May 19, 2011


An inability—often neurological in origins—to perform mathematical operations, including simple arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and to apply arithmetic in everyday life. Children with dyscalculia cannot perform calculations mentally or memorize basic arithmetic facts such as the multiplication tables. They are also unable to master abstract areas of mathematics, such as algebra, plain and solid geometry, trigonometry and calculus, and they must use calculators to perform simple arithmetic needed for everyday life.
Common dyscalculia often has nothing to do with an inability to calculate, but rather with a reading impediment—DYSLEXIA—that prevents a child from seeing numbers clearly or in their correct order. A child not suffering from dyscalculia who sees 38 as 83 will automatically produce the wrong answer when adding it to or subtracting it from another number. Retraining directed at the reading impediment often solves the child’s problem with arithmetic.
Nonneurological dyscalculia can result from inadequate infant education prior to preschool—i.e., a failure to expose the infant to concrete objects such as blocks to manipulate and a failure of parents to teach abstract concepts using language-based facts such as more than, less than, and so on. Again, retraining, using blocks and other objects to teach such concepts as adding, taking away and “how many do we have left,” can solve such nonneurological dyscalculia.
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