Dyscalculia, sometimes known as 'math dyslexia' is a specific learning disability that affects an individual's ability to understand and work with numbers. It can manifest in various ways and can impact mathematical skills such as understanding numerical concepts, performing arithmetic operations, and solving mathematical problems.

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math dyslexia or dyscalculia showing a teacher and student learning numbers

Definition of Dyscalculia as a Learning disability

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder or learning disability that affects an individual's ability to understand and work with numbers and mathematical concepts and basic math facts i.e. math skills. It is characterised by difficulties in various aspects of mathematics, such as number sense, calculation, and problem-solving.

People with dyscalculia often have normal or above-average intelligence and do not have intellectual disabilities that can account for their mathematical challenges. 

Dyslexia is a leaning disability characterised by difficultly reading words hence why Dyscalculia is often called math dyslexia.

Causes of Dyscalculia

The exact causes of dyscalculia are not yet fully understood. However, researchers believe that it is likely to be a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors. Here are some potential factors that may contribute to the development of dyscalculia:

Genetic factors: Dyscalculia tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component. Specific genes or genetic variations may play a role in the development of dyscalculia. However, the precise genes involved have not been identified yet.

Neurological factors: Differences in brain structure and functioning may contribute to dyscalculia. Neuroimaging studies have shown that individuals with dyscalculia may have differences in regions of the brain involved in numerical processing, such as the parietal lobe and the intraparietal sulcus.

Working memory and attention difficulties: Dyscalculia is sometimes associated with difficulties in working memory, which is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind over short periods. Attention problems, such as difficulties in focusing or sustaining attention, may also contribute to the development of dyscalculia.

Language and phonological processing: Dyscalculia has been linked to difficulties in language processing and phonological awareness, which is the ability to identify and manipulate sounds within words. Language and phonological difficulties may affect the understanding of mathematical concepts and symbols.

Environmental factors: Environmental influences, such as educational experiences and opportunities for early math learning, may contribute to the development or exacerbation of dyscalculia.

Lack of exposure to math concepts, inadequate instruction, or a mathematically challenging environment may impact numerical development.

It's important to note that dyscalculia is not caused by lack of intelligence or effort. It is a specific learning disorder that presents math difficulties.

Early identification and intervention are important for individuals with dyscalculia. Targeted interventions, such as structured math instruction, multisensory approaches, and supportive strategies, can help individuals with dyscalculia develop stronger numerical skills and overcome challenges.

If you or someone you know is experiencing significant math problems that persist despite effort and instruction, it is recommended to seek a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified professional, such as an educational psychologist or a learning specialist, who can assess the individual's mathematical abilities and provide appropriate support and interventions for this learning disability.


Symptoms of Dyscalculia

The symptoms and characteristics of dyscalculia can vary from person to person, but here are some common signs:

Difficulty understanding and recognising numbers: Individuals with dyscalculia may struggle to grasp the concept of numbers and their quantities. They may have difficulty counting, recognising numbers, and understanding their magnitude.

Challenges with basic arithmetic operations: Dyscalculia can affect a person's ability to perform basic mathematical operations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Individuals may struggle with remembering math facts, applying procedures correctly, and understanding the relationships between numbers.

Difficulty with number sense and estimation: People with dyscalculia may have difficulties estimating quantities, understanding number relationships (e.g., greater than/less than), and comparing numbers.

Poor sense of time and sequencing: Dyscalculia can impact a person's understanding of time and their ability to sequence events or numbers in order. They may struggle with telling time, understanding schedules, and comprehending the sequencing of steps in mathematical procedures.

Challenges with mathematical symbols and terms: Dyscalculia may involve difficulties in understanding and interpreting mathematical symbols, such as plus, minus, multiplication, and division signs. Individuals may also have trouble comprehending mathematical terms and vocabulary.

Spatial and measurement difficulties: Dyscalculia can affect a person's spatial reasoning and ability to work with measurements. Tasks involving measurement, estimation, and understanding spatial relationships may be challenging.

Difficulty with problem-solving: Individuals with dyscalculia may have trouble understanding and solving mathematical word problems. They may struggle with comprehending the problem, identifying relevant information, and applying appropriate problem-solving strategies.

Weak working memory and organisation skills: Dyscalculia can impact working memory, which is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind. Individuals may have difficulty remembering and recalling mathematical steps or procedures.

Organisational skills, such as setting up and organising math problems, may also be affected. It's important to note that dyscalculia is not caused by lack of intelligence or effort.

Dyscalculia diagnoses

Diagnosing dyscalculia as a learning disorder typically involves a comprehensive assessment by educational and psychological professionals. Here are the key steps involved in the diagnosis of dyscalculia:

1. Initial screening:

  • Teachers, parents, or other professionals may observe difficulties with basic math skills, such as understanding numerical concepts, performing arithmetic operations, and solving mathematical problems.

  • Screening tools or checklists may be used to identify individuals who may be at risk for dyscalculia.

2. Comprehensive evaluation:

  • A comprehensive evaluation is conducted by a multidisciplinary team, which may include educators, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and other specialists.

  • The evaluation typically includes standardised tests, observations, interviews, and assessments of mathematical skills and abilities.

3. Assessment of mathematical skills:

  • Standardised tests are used to assess various aspects of mathematical skills, including numerical reasoning, arithmetic operations, mathematical language, and problem-solving abilities.

  • Assessments may cover topics such as number sense, counting, place value, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and geometry.

4. Observation of mathematical behaviour:

  • Observations of the individual's mathematical behaviour in different contexts, such as the classroom or home environment, provide valuable information about their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies used to solve mathematical problems.

  • Observations may include how the individual approaches math tasks, their use of mathematical language, their understanding of mathematical concepts, and their ability to apply mathematical skills in real-world situations.

5. Interviews and history:

  • Interviews with parents, teachers, and the individual provide insight into the individual's developmental history, educational experiences, and any concerns or challenges related to mathematics.

  • Gathering information about family history, academic performance, previous interventions, and related developmental milestones helps to understand the context of the individual's difficulties with mathematics.

6. Differential Diagnosis:

  • It is essential to rule out other potential factors that may contribute to difficulties with mathematics, such as intellectual disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), language disorders, or visual-motor integration problems. These are not specifically a mathematics learning disorder where as dyscalculia is a math learning disability.

  • A comprehensive assessment helps to differentiate dyscalculia from other learning disorders and developmental conditions.

7. Documentation and report:

  • The results of the evaluation are documented in a comprehensive report, which includes a summary of findings, diagnostic impressions, recommendations for intervention and support, and any accommodations or modifications needed in educational settings.

  • The report serves as a roadmap for developing an individualised intervention plan tailored to the individual's unique needs and strengths. 


Tips on Differentiating Curriculum for Students with Dyscalculia

Although Dyscalculia cannot be cured, various strategies and accommodations can help students manage their difficulties. Below are some ideas: 

Multisensory Instruction for Students with Dyscalculia

Providing multisensory instruction is a key strategy to enhance understanding and comprehension of mathematical concepts for students with Dyscalculia. Multisensory instruction taps into different learning channels or modalities - auditory, visual, and kinesthetic - making abstract concepts more concrete and aiding in the encoding and retention of information.

1. Hands-On Activities: Hands-on activities are crucial for a kinesthetic approach to learning. These activities engage students physically and allow them to actively participate in the learning process.

For instance, using objects like counters, cubes or blocks can help students physically understand concepts such as addition and subtraction. For example, if the mathematical problem is 3 + 2, a student can take three blocks, then add two more, and count them all to find the answer. 

This approach not only enables students to 'see' the math in action but also to 'feel' it. Tactile experiences like these help to build a more intuitive understanding of mathematical concepts, which can be particularly beneficial for students with Dyscalculia who may struggle with more traditional, abstract instruction.

2. Manipulatives: Math manipulatives are physical tools that help students visualise and internalise math concepts. Tools like base-ten blocks, fraction bars, number lines, and geometric shapes can help students with Dyscalculia better understand numbers and their relationships. 

Using a number line, for instance, can help students visualise the concept of greater than or less than and can illustrate the operations of addition and subtraction. Manipulatives like fraction bars or pie charts can be useful in teaching fractions, as they provide a clear, visual way to understand parts of a whole.

3. Visual Aids: Visual aids are a vital part of multisensory instruction. They offer a visual representation of concepts and can make abstract ideas more concrete. Charts, diagrams, drawings, or color-coding techniques can all be helpful. 

For example, color-coding can be used to differentiate different place values. In a three-digit number, hundreds could be color-coded in one color, tens in another, and ones in a third color. This can help students visually distinguish between different place values and understand their roles.

Graphs and charts can also be powerful tools in visual learning. They can represent data in an easily understandable format and help students make connections and comparisons more effectively.

Multisensory instruction, through the use of hands-on activities, manipulatives, and visual aids, can significantly enhance the learning experience for students with Dyscalculia. By engaging multiple senses simultaneously, these methods help students to better understand, remember, and apply mathematical concepts, thus boosting their confidence and competence in mathematics.


Provide Concrete Representations

Providing concrete representations for students with dyscalculia is a highly effective strategy in teaching mathematical concepts and facilitating a better understanding of numbers. Tools like number blocks, counters, and number lines provide tangible, visual aids that translate abstract numbers and operations into something more tangible and relatable.


1. Number Blocks: Number blocks, also known as base-ten blocks, are a great manipulative to visually represent the concept of place value. They usually come as units (ones), rods (tens), flats (hundreds), and cubes (thousands). For instance, the number 123 can be represented with one cube (representing a hundred), two rods (representing twenty), and three units (representing three). This concrete, visual representation can help students with dyscalculia understand that a digit's value depends on its position in the number.

Moreover, number blocks can also be used to illustrate operations like addition, subtraction, and even multiplication and division. The physical act of grouping or taking away blocks provides a tactile and visual method for students to grasp these concepts.


2. Number Counters: Number counters, or counting objects, provide a hands-on way for students to understand the basic concepts of counting, adding, and subtracting. For example, if a mathematical problem involves adding 3 + 4, a student can count out three counters, then add four more, and finally count all the counters to arrive at the solution. Similarly, subtraction can be illustrated by removing counters. These manipulations offer a tangible way for students to understand the effect of mathematical operations on quantities.


3. Number Lines: Number lines provide a linear, visual representation of numbers that can greatly assist in number recognition, sequencing, and understanding the relationships between numbers. They can illustrate concepts such as "greater than," "less than," and "equal to" as well as operations like addition and subtraction. 

For example, a student could perform the addition of 4 + 2 on a number line by starting at the number 4 and then moving two spaces to the right, ending up at the number 6. This physical movement along the line gives a concrete sense of how numbers relate to each other and how operations affect them.

Concrete representations like number blocks, counters, and number lines provide valuable multisensory learning experiences for students with dyscalculia. They translate abstract mathematical concepts into tangible forms, allowing students to see, touch, and therefore better comprehend the mechanics of numbers and operations. This not only enhances their understanding but also builds their confidence in working with numbers and math.




Provide Scaffolded Instruction

Scaffolded instruction is a teaching method that provides systematic support to students as they learn new concepts, gradually reducing the support as the student becomes more capable and confident. For students with Dyscalculia, scaffolded instruction – including explicit instruction, modeling, and guided practice – can significantly enhance their understanding and proficiency in mathematics.

1. Explicit Instruction: Explicit instruction involves clearly demonstrating and explaining each step in a mathematical process. It requires the teacher to be explicit about the learning objectives and about the strategies to be used in achieving them. For instance, in teaching multiplication, the teacher would explicitly explain the concept and the process involved, such as "Multiplication is a shortcut for repeated addition."

This method of instruction is particularly beneficial for students with dyscalculia as it eliminates assumptions about what students already understand. Instead, it breaks down mathematical concepts into easily digestible parts, allowing students to grasp each piece before moving on to the next.


2. Modeling: Modeling is a teaching strategy where the teacher demonstrates a concept or skill in front of students, providing a visual and auditory example of how a problem should be solved. This might involve working through a math problem on a whiteboard while verbalising the thought process and steps taken.

For students with dyscalculia, modeling can help in several ways. It can help them understand the procedures and strategies used to solve a problem. It also gives students a clear example that they can refer back to when they're working independently.


3. Guided Practice: Guided practice involves students trying to solve problems or execute skills themselves, but with the teacher providing guidance, feedback, and support as needed. This step is crucial in the learning process as it allows students to apply the concepts and skills they've learned in a safe and supportive environment.

Guided practice is particularly helpful for students with dyscalculia as it provides an opportunity for immediate feedback and correction. If a student makes a mistake, the teacher is there to help them understand where they went wrong and guide them toward the correct process or solution.

Scaffolded instruction, with its emphasis on explicit instruction, modeling, and guided practice, is a highly effective method of teaching for students with Dyscalculia.

By breaking down mathematical concepts and processes into manageable chunks and providing guided support, teachers can enhance students' understanding, boost their confidence, and gradually lead them towards mathematical independence. This approach ensures that students are not just mimicking procedures but truly comprehending the mathematical concepts at hand.




Provide Visual Supports

Visual supports play an essential role in teaching mathematical concepts to students with Dyscalculia. They provide a graphical way to represent abstract mathematical ideas, making them easier to understand and remember. Among the most effective visual supports are charts and diagrams, graphic organisers, and step-by-step guides.


1. Charts and Diagrams: Charts and diagrams offer a concrete, visual representation of mathematical concepts, making them more accessible to students. Pie charts, bar graphs, or line graphs can represent statistical data in an easily digestible way, helping students with dyscalculia understand the relationships and patterns within the data. 

Venn diagrams can be used to illustrate set theory concepts such as unions and intersections. Number lines can visually convey sequences, inequalities, and simple arithmetic. These visual aids can greatly assist students in grasping and retaining complex mathematical ideas.


2. Graphic Organisers: Graphic organisers help students visualise the relationships between different pieces of information. For example, a student could use a graphic organiser to structure their approach to solving a multi-step math problem, with each step represented in a different section of the organiser.

For students with dyscalculia, graphic organisers can make mathematical problem-solving processes less overwhelming by breaking them down into manageable parts.

They also aid in understanding the relationship and sequence between these parts. For instance, flow charts can be used to outline the sequence of steps needed to solve an algebraic equation.


3. Step-by-Step Guides: Step-by-step guides can be an invaluable tool for students with dyscalculia, particularly when learning new procedures or solving complex problems. These guides break down the problem-solving process into smaller, manageable steps, each clearly explained and illustrated. 

A step-by-step guide for long division, for example, would clearly explain each stage of the process, potentially with visual aids to represent each step. For students with dyscalculia, this detailed guidance can help them understand the sequence of operations involved, remember the process more easily, and apply it independently in the future.

Visual supports, including charts and diagrams, graphic organisers, and step-by-step guides, provide clear, accessible ways for students with dyscalculia to understand mathematical concepts.

They break down complex ideas into understandable parts, demonstrate relationships between different elements, and guide students through problem-solving processes. As such, they are essential tools in enhancing the mathematical comprehension and abilities of students with dyscalculia.




Provide Chunking and Pacing

The practice of chunking and pacing plays a crucial role in facilitating mathematical understanding for students with dyscalculia. This approach involves breaking complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps, allowing for individual pacing and emphasising understanding over speed.



Chunking is a teaching strategy that involves breaking down complex tasks or information into smaller, more manageable parts or 'chunks'. In the context of mathematics, this could involve breaking down a multi-step problem into individual steps, or dividing a large set of problems into smaller sets.

For students with dyscalculia, chunking can reduce the cognitive load and make tasks feel less overwhelming. By focusing on one small part at a time, students can gradually build their understanding and confidence. For example, if a student is learning long division, the teacher might first focus on dividing a single digit number, then gradually introduce larger numbers and additional steps as the student becomes more comfortable with the process.



Pacing involves adjusting the speed of instruction to meet the needs of individual students. For students with dyscalculia, it's important to allow them to progress at their own pace. This means giving them enough time to understand and practice each concept or skill before moving on to the next one.

Rushing can lead to superficial understanding and memorisation, rather than deep comprehension. By allowing students to set their own pace, they can fully grasp each concept and develop a solid foundation of mathematical understanding. This approach also reduces stress and anxiety, which can hinder learning.


Emphasising Understanding Over Speed

One common misconception about mathematics is that it's all about speed. However, rushing to complete problems can lead to errors and misunderstandings. For students with dyscalculia, it's particularly important to emphasise understanding over speed.

By encouraging students to take their time and fully understand the concepts and processes involved, we can help them develop a deeper comprehension and more accurate execution of mathematical skills. Regularly reminding students that it's okay to work slowly can also help reduce math anxiety and build confidence.

Chunking and pacing, along with an emphasis on understanding over speed, are highly effective strategies for teaching students with dyscalculia. By breaking tasks down into manageable parts, allowing students to progress at their own pace, and focusing on deep understanding rather than quick completion, we can significantly enhance students' comprehension of mathematics and their confidence in their mathematical abilities.




Provide Real Life Applications

Integrating real-life applications into mathematics instruction can be a powerful tool for aiding students with Dyscalculia. By linking abstract mathematical concepts to concrete examples from daily life, such as budgeting, problem-solving, and measurement, students can better grasp these concepts and see their relevance.


1. Budgeting: Budgeting involves various mathematical skills like addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Incorporating budgeting exercises into the curriculum can help students understand the practical applications of these operations. For example, students could be tasked with managing a pretend budget, making spending decisions based on their resources, and tracking their expenses over time.

This type of activity can make abstract numerical concepts more tangible, allowing students with Dyscalculia to see the practical implications of the mathematical operations they are learning. It also aids in the development of essential life skills, fostering independence and financial literacy.


2. Problem-Solving: Problem-solving is a critical part of everyday life, whether it involves figuring out the fastest route to a destination or deciding the most efficient way to complete a set of tasks. Incorporating real-life problem-solving scenarios into the mathematics curriculum can provide students with context, making abstract problems more meaningful.

For students with Dyscalculia, solving problems that relate to their own experiences can help in understanding and retaining mathematical concepts. Additionally, it fosters the development of logical thinking and decision-making skills, which are crucial for navigating various life situations.


3. Measurement: Measurement is an integral part of many everyday activities, from cooking and construction to planning a trip. Teaching measurement in the context of these real-life situations can help students see the importance and practical use of this mathematical concept.

For example, students could measure ingredients for a recipe, calculate distances on a map, or determine the area of a room to fit furniture. These activities provide a hands-on, concrete way to understand measurement, which can be especially beneficial for students with Dyscalculia.

Incorporating real-life applications into mathematics teaching can enhance understanding and engagement for students with Dyscalculia. Practical activities like budgeting, problem-solving, and measurement provide a context for abstract mathematical concepts, making them more accessible and meaningful.

Additionally, these activities help students see the relevance of mathematics in their everyday lives, reinforcing the importance of the skills they are learning and their potential for future application.




Provide Manipulative and Technology Tools

The use of manipulatives and technology tools can significantly enhance mathematical comprehension for students with Dyscalculia. They can provide tactile and visual representations of abstract concepts, making mathematics more accessible and engaging.

1. Manipulatives: Manipulatives are physical objects that students can handle to explore and learn mathematical concepts. They might include items like number blocks, counters, fraction circles, or geometric shapes. Manipulatives enable students to see and touch the mathematical concepts they're learning about, which can make these concepts easier to understand.

For students with dyscalculia, manipulatives can be particularly beneficial. They can use these tools to explore number relationships, perform operations, solve problems, and visualise mathematical ideas. For example, a student might use number blocks to understand addition and subtraction, or fraction circles to grasp the concept of fractions.

2. Calculators: Calculators can be valuable tools for students with dyscalculia, particularly when dealing with more complex calculations. They can help reduce the cognitive load and minimise errors, allowing students to focus more on the mathematical concepts and problem-solving strategies.

Calculators can also be used to check work, providing students with immediate feedback and helping them understand their mistakes. This can boost students' confidence and encourage them to take on more challenging problems.

Digital Tools: Digital tools, such as interactive math software or online learning platforms, can provide engaging, personalised learning experiences for students with dyscalculia. They can offer visual and auditory aids, immediate feedback, and the ability to progress at their own pace. 

Interactive math games can make learning fun and engaging, increasing motivation and retention. Virtual manipulatives can offer the same benefits as physical ones, but with added features like the ability to change colors, sizes, or orientations. Educational apps can provide structured, step-by-step instruction, along with the flexibility to practice anytime, anywhere.

These tools can be highly effective for enhancing mathematical comprehension for students with dyscalculia. They provide tactile and visual representations of mathematical concepts, minimise errors, and offer engaging, personalised learning experiences. These tools can make mathematics more accessible and enjoyable, helping students build a strong foundation of mathematical understanding and skills.




Provide Explicit Vocabulary Instruction

The explicit instruction of mathematical vocabulary is a crucial aspect of aiding students with Dyscalculia in their comprehension of mathematics and numbers. This involves deliberately teaching specific words and their meanings, as well as reinforcing their use through practice.

Mathematics has a unique vocabulary that is often complex and abstract. Terms like "sum", "difference", "product", and "quotient" have specific meanings within the mathematical context, while words like "times", "sets", or "values" have different meanings in everyday language compared to when used in mathematics. Without a solid understanding of these terms, students may struggle to grasp mathematical concepts and procedures.


Explicit Instruction

Explicit instruction involves directly teaching students about mathematical terms and their meanings. This could include presenting a new word, giving its definition, using it in an example, and discussing its importance in the mathematical context.

For students with Dyscalculia, understanding the language of mathematics can play a significant role in their ability to grasp and apply mathematical concepts. By teaching vocabulary explicitly, educators can help ensure that students fully comprehend the words and phrases they will encounter in mathematical instructions and problems.


Reinforcement Through Frequent Practice

Simply introducing vocabulary is not enough; students need frequent opportunities to practice using these words to solidify their understanding. Reinforcement can come in the form of written practice, verbal exercises, and real-world application.

For example, after learning the term "fraction", students might practice by identifying fractions in a group of numbers, using fractions in calculations, or finding real-life examples of fractions. This frequent practice helps to embed mathematical vocabulary in students' long-term memory, making it more readily accessible when needed.

Providing opportunities for students to use mathematical vocabulary in various contexts also allows them to develop a deeper understanding of these words. For instance, a student might use the word "subtract" in different mathematical problems, helping them understand that subtraction can apply to different types of numbers and situations.

Explicit instruction and frequent reinforcement of mathematical vocabulary can be highly beneficial for students with Dyscalculia. By ensuring that students understand the unique language of mathematics, educators can help them grasp mathematical concepts more easily and apply them more effectively. This, in turn, can lead to increased confidence, reduced anxiety, and improved performance in mathematics.




Provide Differentiated Practice

Differentiated practice, which tailors learning activities to students' diverse learning needs and preferences, is a potent tool in bolstering mathematical comprehension for students with Dyscalculia. By offering a range of activities, such as hands-on tasks, visual puzzles, word problems, and interactive games, educators can reinforce mathematical concepts and skills in varied and engaging ways.

1. Hands-On Tasks: Hands-on tasks provide tactile experiences that can help to cement abstract mathematical concepts. Building geometric shapes, for instance, can reinforce understanding of geometry, while measuring ingredients for a recipe can bring fractions to life. These activities engage students physically and can make learning more enjoyable, increasing motivation and retention.

2. Visual Puzzles: Visual puzzles, such as tangrams or Sudoku, require students to use logic and reasoning to solve problems, reinforcing their mathematical thinking skills. For students with Dyscalculia, these puzzles can help develop spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, and problem-solving abilities. Moreover, visual puzzles can make abstract mathematical concepts more tangible and foster a sense of accomplishment when solved.

3. Word Problems: Word problems offer the opportunity to apply mathematical concepts and skills in a contextualised way. This can be especially beneficial for students with Dyscalculia, who may struggle to connect abstract numerical operations to real-world applications. Solving word problems requires understanding the problem, identifying the relevant information, deciding on an appropriate strategy, and carrying out the calculation, all of which reinforce various mathematical skills.

4. Interactive Games: Interactive games can make learning mathematics fun and engaging, increasing students' motivation and participation. Games can involve various mathematical skills, from basic operations to more complex problem-solving, and can be adapted to different levels of difficulty.

For students with Dyscalculia, interactive games can provide a low-stress environment for practicing and reinforcing their skills, with immediate feedback and opportunities for repetition.

Differentiated practice can significantly enhance mathematical comprehension for students with Dyscalculia. By offering a variety of engaging activities, educators can meet diverse learning needs and preferences, reinforce mathematical concepts and skills, and make learning mathematics more enjoyable. 

Provide Alternative Assessments

Alternative assessments can provide a more comprehensive and inclusive way to evaluate mathematical understanding in students with Dyscalculia. These types of assessments move beyond traditional paper-and-pencil tests to consider various ways of demonstrating knowledge and skills, including oral presentations, projects, portfolios, and practical applications.


1. Oral Presentations: Oral presentations allow students to verbally demonstrate their understanding of a mathematical concept. This form of assessment can be especially beneficial for students with Dyscalculia who may struggle with written tasks but can articulate their knowledge verbally. It allows them to explain their thought process and reasoning, providing a deeper insight into their understanding of mathematical concepts.


2. Projects: Projects involve applying mathematical concepts to solve real-world problems or tasks. This might include designing a garden using geometric principles, or creating a budget plan using arithmetic. Projects allow students to demonstrate practical application of their mathematical skills, and can be particularly useful for students with Dyscalculia who may better understand mathematical concepts when they are contextualised in real-life situations.


3. Portfolios: Portfolios provide a comprehensive view of a student's progress over time. They can include a range of work samples, like worksheets, quizzes, and written reflections. For students with Dyscalculia, portfolios can highlight growth and progress that may not be apparent in single assessments. They can also serve as a tool for self-reflection, enabling students to recognise their improvements and areas for further development.


4. Practical Applications: Practical applications involve using mathematical skills in everyday tasks, such as measuring ingredients for a recipe or calculating change. This form of assessment can be particularly beneficial for students with Dyscalculia, as it can demonstrate the relevance of mathematics in daily life and foster a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Alternative assessments provide students with Dyscalculia the opportunity to showcase their strengths and apply their mathematical knowledge in meaningful ways. By focusing on understanding and application, rather than just recall of facts or procedures, alternative assessments can promote deeper learning and increase students' confidence and motivation. They provide a more nuanced view of students' mathematical abilities and can help guide instruction to support continued growth and progress.



Differentiating the curriculum is a crucial aspect of education, especially for students with Dyscalculia. It ensures that each student's unique learning needs are catered to and their potential maximised. Through differentiation, educators can provide an engaging, comprehensive, and accessible mathematics curriculum that values all students' strengths and promotes their academic growth.

This approach includes a variety of strategies such as multisensory instruction, concrete representations, scaffolded instruction, visual supports, chunking and pacing, real-life applications, and the use of manipulatives and technology tools. It also involves explicit vocabulary instruction, differentiated practice, and alternative assessments. Each of these elements can foster a deep, nuanced understanding of mathematics and enhance a student's ability to apply mathematical concepts effectively.

Differentiation doesn't just help students with Dyscalculia; it benefits all students. It creates an inclusive learning environment that celebrates diversity and acknowledges that each student has unique ways of learning. It empowers students to become active participants in their learning process, fostering self-confidence, resilience, and a love for learning.


Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and interventions but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and interventions accordingly.

Behaviour Help

If you are supporting an individual with this diagnosis, please refer to our services and resources. They aim to help children, adolescents and adults achieve better communication, social, emotional, behavioural and learning outcomes. So whether you are wanting guidance on parenting, teaching, supporting or providing therapy, Behaviour Help is at hand.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible causes, symptoms and types but some general information that can be further explored. Based on what you have read if you have any concerns about an individual, please raise them with the individual/s. The caregiver can then raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the relevant professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist, allied health professional and learning specialists) for diagnosis and treatment if appropriate.