Understanding Number Dyslexia

Understanding Number Dyslexia (Click Here to Listen to this article)

Number Dyslexia—or Dyscalculia—is a general term for a type of Dyslexia involving perception of numbers, weights, measures and even time. The sufferer generally has difficulty with abstract number concepts in most cases. The individual might excel in subjects involving reading, science and even geometry, but still have difficulty with simple math functions such as addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Causes of Number Dyslexia vary from case to case. The condition was originally linked to patients recovering from damage to certain locations in the brain, however further studies have shown that Dyscalculia could have a genetic root as well.

It is thought that as much as 5% of the population suffers from this condition to varying degrees and in varying ways.  As broad as the symptoms might be, some of the common signs are as follows:

· Transposing of numbers

· Confusing +  -  × and ÷ signs

· Doing well in other subjects such as science and geometry until calculations are needed

· Problems telling right from left

· Trouble telling time using non-digital clocks

· Problems using a calculator

Though these are common signs of number dyslexia, they should by no means be used exclusively for self-diagnosis. A true diagnosis should be sought through a trained psychologist or other health professional who will conduct a series of tests to determine if there is a problem and to what extent the condition exists.

As with anything else, early identification and treatment is best. But due to the varying degrees and symptoms of Dyscalculia, treatment has to be tailored to an individual. Treatment degrees differ radically from counseling to help retrain the brain to electro shock therapy.  Because of the relatively “new” nature of the condition, there is no set treatment regimen as there would be for more physically-based challenges.

Even though it is important for the individual to find a mental health professional that they are comfortable with and pursue a course of treatment, one should keep options open and keep researching as new developments arise. Avenues of treatment are being investigated all the time. Recent research has hinted that Eastern Mathematics could be an effective alternative to “traditional math.”  It has even been hinted that a course of study could be eventually developed that would allow an individual with Dyscalculia to develop their own system of mathematics.

Though this condition exists in as many as 1 out of every 20 people, it is by no means a debilitating one. Many people move past the math and become very successful in the arts, sciences, and in every other sector of life, family, and career.