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Mathematical Disorder        

What is a mathematics disorder?
Students with a mathematics disorder have problems with their math skills. Their math skills are significantly below normal considering the student’s age, intelligence, and education. The poor math skills cause problems with the student's academic success and other important areas in the student's life.

 

What signs indicate a mathematics disorder?

Potential symptoms
* Frequent difficulties with arithmetic, confusing the signs: +, ?, ÷ and ×.
* Inability to tell which of two numbers is the larger.
* Reliance on 'counting-on' strategies, e.g., using fingers, rather than any more efficient mental arithmetic strategies.
* Difficulty with everyday tasks like checking change and reading analog clocks.
* Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook.
* In some severe cases, the sufferer may have very bad co-ordination, causing them to fall or trip often.
* Difficulty with times-tables, mental arithmetic, etc.
* May do fairly well in subjects such as science and geometry, which require logic rather than formulas, until a higher level requiring calculations is obtained.
* Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time.
* Problems differentiating between left and right.
* Having a poor sense of direction (i.e., north, south, east, and west), potentially even with a compass.
* Difficulty navigating or mentally "turning" the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage.
* Having difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet away).
* Inability to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences.
* An inability to read a sequence of numbers, or rotating them when repeated such turning 56 into 65.
* Difficulty keeping score during games.
* Difficulty with games such as poker with more flexible rules for scoring.
* Difficulty in activities requiring sequential processing, from the physical (such as dance steps) to the abstract (reading, writing and signaling things in the right order). May have trouble even with a calculator due to difficulties in the process of feeding in variables.
* The condition may lead in extreme cases to a phobia of mathematics and mathematical devices.

 

Remember…

Students with mathematics disorder have problems which can include the following:

* Writing or printing numbers
* Counting
* Adding and subtracting
* Working with mathematical signs such as +, -, x, and /
* Learning names that include numbers

Students who suffer from mathematics disorders frequently have:

* Low self-esteem
* Social problems
* Increased dropout rate at school


Mathematics disorders may also be associated with:

* Conduct disorder
* Attention deficit disorder
* Depression
* Other learning disorders


At what age does mathematics disorder appear?

Mathematics disorder is usually brought to the attention of the child’s parents in second or third grade when math instruction becomes a very important part of the classroom teaching.


How often is mathematics disorder seen in our society?

Although it is difficult to determine exactly, about one percent (1%) of children in the United States suffer from a mathematics disorder.

 

How is mathematics disorder diagnosed?

Mathematics disorder may be discovered when a student shows poor functioning in several math skills. For instance, if a student has difficulty understanding and working with various math terms and concepts or identifying arithmetic symbols and signs, the student may have mathematics disorder.   Also, mathematics disorder may be indicated when the child is unable to attend to details such as carrying numbers or has problems counting and memorizing the multiplication tables.
Although standardized, group testing is important, it alone should not be relied on in making this diagnosis. It is very important that special, psychoeducational tests be individually administered to the child to determine if this learning disorder is present. In administering the test the examiner should give special attention to the child’s ethnic and cultural background.

 

How is a mathematics disorder treated?

Treatment for mathematics disorder includes individual tutoring, placement in special math classrooms with expert math teachers, and other educational aids that focus on math skills.

 

What happens to someone with a mathematics disorder?

The course of mathematics disorder is varied. Some students go on to do well in math. Others, even with early intervention and remedial attention, continue to struggle with math in their adult years.       

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