Does Dyscalculia Affect Reading And Writing? Sieving through the reality and myths

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REVIEWED BY NUMBERDYSLEXIA’S MEDICAL REVIEW PANEL ON OCT 02, 2021

Yes, Dyscalculia may affect reading and writing to a certain extent. Dyscalculia is a learning developmental disorder that is known to cause difficulty in comprehending arithmetic, resulting in a deficit in mathematical abilities.

However, it may also result in other learning developmental issues.

Reading and writing disabilities due to numbers

Dyscalculia is a neuro-developmental disorder attributed to dysfunction in the region around the intraparietal sulcus and potentially the frontal lobe. It has been categorized into various subtypes. Among them, are the two subtypes of:

Lexical Dyscalculia:

This is the form where the child especially has difficulty reading and comprehending mathematical symbols, expressions, or simply basic numerical.

Graphical Dyscalculia:

On the other hand, Graphical dyscalculia is associated with difficulty in writing mathematical numerals and symbols.

At the most basic level and agreed to by the scientific community in general, dyscalculia causes difficulty in reading and writing mathematical symbols and numerals, and by extension, affects the overall reading and writing efficiency of the individual.

Dyscalculia-Dyslexia dichotomy

It is a general belief that dyslexia (the learning disability resulting in difficulty in reading and writing) and dyscalculia are separate learning disorders. Hence, a child who is suffering from dyscalculia, unless diagnosed with dyslexia, will have normal reading and writing abilities corresponding to age.

However, recent studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians – Universitaet in Munich have shown that children with dyscalculia may also suffer from generalized reading and writing disabilities to some extent.

In fact, according to the psychologist, Dr. Kristina Moll, about 57% of children who have an arithmetic-related learning disorder also suffer from reading or spelling disabilities.

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Previous supporting researches to this claim:

A research paper by E. Andersson and S. Abdelmalek also suggests that dyscalculia might just be a subtype of dyslexia. Thus, they believe that it is irrational to create an artificial dichotomy between dyscalculia and dyslexia.

According to Vårdgivarguiden (2015), although children might claim that they can read but not perform mathematics, it may have to do more with the fact that mathematics requires more concentration and thinking.

Since dyscalculia is often accompanied by other cognitive disabilities, it reduces the motivation and energy to focus on mathematical abilities. However, the child thus may experience difficulty in reading and writing as well, and choose to concentrate his energy in improving in this area more due to its relative simplicity, resulting in lagging behind in mathematics.

Gender implications in reading and writing disabilities

Also, gender differences, suggesting underlying biological factors have also been noticed in various researches. Thus, within learning disorders, while girls tend to suffer more from arithmetic-related disabilities, boys seem to suffer more in the spelling area. Reading disabilities are equally affected in both genders.

Thus, boys tend to suffer more from writing disabilities than girls, if both suffer from learning disorders.

Summing up,

Schulte-Korne believes that these findings call for re-thinking on diagnostic procedures for learning disorders and re-strategizing effective ways to treat these children, so that they may not fall into a trap of creating a negative self-image for themselves and lag behind in subjects they are perfectly capable of comprehending and excelling in.

The treatment plan for dyscalculia should thus also be expanded to include lag in writing and reading disabilities.

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References:

  1. Vårdgivarguiden FR 2015:01. Vårdgivarguiden. Dyskalkyli. Stockholm: Stockholms länslandsting. ISBN 91-976391-3-3 2015
  2. E.Andersson,S.Abdelmalek;Dyscalculia\Dyslexia-A Dichotomy?
  3. Kristina Moll, Sarah Kunze, Nina Neuhoff, Jennifer Bruder, Gerd Schulte-Körne. Specific Learning Disorder: Prevalence and Gender DifferencesPLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (7): e103537

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