Dyscalculia, being very little known, is often times referred as Number Dyslexia or Numerical Dyslexia. Some of the top internet information sources call it as a Math equivalent of Dyslexia. But, is it fair?
Well, the fact is, at some point dyslexia does affect the arithmetic skills of a child. Kid with dyslexia may find trouble in doing math work. They may struggle while naming numerals. They also may struggle with reading word problems, reading number names, and spelling number names. But these challenges are not the same as the issues faced by a person with dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is not a subset of dyslexia but a sole learning disability that requires equal importance. Calling it Number Dyslexia just makes it more confusing than being meaningful.
The term can suggest very different meaning to what dyscalculia actually is. Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that affects an individual’s ability to read and spell. It is often used inappropriately as a generic term for other learning issues. Number Dyslexia seems more like difficulty in reading numbers than understanding the mathematical concepts.
Dyscalculia, on the other hand, is the difficulty in understanding numbers, manipulating them, performing mathematical calculations and learning facts in mathematics. But, it just not stop there. Trouble learning numbers is just a part of what you experience if you are having dyscalculia. It involves concepts, ideas, and reasoning that revolves around mathematics.
What are those ‘other’ symptoms?
We reached out to people suffering from dyscalculia and asked if it’s just about numbers or maths? The responses were rather surprising. We were stunned to see how broadly this can affects a person’s day to day tasks that may or may not be math relevant.
Trouble in understanding sequences, directions and time are the most frequent issues that a dyscalculic may face. Neuronal dysfunction, that prevents the correct mental representation of numbers, is the driving cause behind it. Activities like map reading, analyzing directions, remembering events and paths pose a great hurdle to their thinking process. It is understandable for a kid to confuse between left or right, but for a grown-up it could be frustrating.
Another answer to our survey that we came across is trouble in recognizing faces. In a research conducted to find the root causes of the dyscalculia, Study of brain imaging showed that there is less brain activity in parietal and frontal areas of the brain that are associated with mathematical cognition. This area is also responsible for the weak performance in basic cognitive tasks in dyscalculic children, including the ability to remember and distinguish faces.