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Math Disability Strategies and Resources

Is your child struggling with math?  Do they have a hard time memorizing basic math facts, solving word problems or making sense of equations?  Approximately 3-5% of school-aged children are estimated to have a Math Disability.  With evolving teaching practices, electronic applications and online resources your child should not have to suffer without help.  The following can help your child become more successful and confident in math:

Math apps and online programs:

Classroom-based accommodations:

  • Graph paper to help with organization.
  • Use different colors for columns in solving equations (e.g., green is where to start, etc.)
  • Chunking can make an unmanageable amount of work manageable.  Play with the presentation of problems and/or break assignments into smaller pieces.
  • Teach common words in problems and create a list to refer back to.
  • Break down problem-solving into steps and do not proceed until a step is mastered.
  • Create a visual reminder for solving equations.

Incorporate multisensory techniques:

  • Make your own flash cards, each one unique.  Review two or three of the most troublesome at a time and fold in with new problems.
  • Clap while counting.
  • Use manipulatives for visual, hands-on learning.

For more information about Math Disability and its remediation, please visit: http://www.dyscalculia.org/.  For information about your child’s rights and standards in public education, please visit: Idea.ed.gov.


The Basics of a Math Disorder

Mathematics is much more than adding and subtracting.  In reality, there are several factors and components that compose a child’s mathematics achievement.  Children’s mathematics skills are found to develop in a hierarchical fashion.

Stages of mathematics development:

  • The first stage of mathematics development is observed in young children and consists of skills such as understanding of one-to-one correspondence, classification, seriation, and conservation.
  • After theses skills are developed, children are able to learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Finally, after these skills are developed, advanced skills such as algebra and geometry are able to be learned.

Teachers can watch to see if these skills are developing as they should be.

Once teachers have identified a child as struggling with mathematics, one or more of the following factors would likely need to be addressed:

  • Visualspatial skills
  • Linguistic abilities
  • Working memory

Visualspatial skills are necessary for aligning numerals in columns for calculation problems, understanding the base ten system, interpreting maps, and understanding geometry.  Linguistic skills are needed when performing word problems, following procedures of how to carry out operations, understanding math terminology, and knowledge of math facts.  Working memory capabilities are used for the manipulation of numbers and operations.

From here with a plan from the teacher and/or a neuropsychologist, the student can get back on track with his or her math skills.

Click here for more information on Learning Disorders.