Children having chronic difficulty with basic math concepts and operations, such as recognizing numbers, learning to count or estimating time are often diagnosed as having dyscalculia, a learning weakness resulting in math skills well below average.

According to the American Psychological Association, between 3% to 7% of the population suffer from DYSCALCULIA while, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, DYSLEXIA - the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders - affects 20% of the population. And according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 5% of American children have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number at more than double that, stating that 11% of American children aged 4 to 17 had ADHD as of 2011.

Children labelled with dyscalculia have difficulties completing math calculations, take longer time than their peers to solve math problems and complex equations like multi-digit multiplication or division, and often feel anxiety towards anything related to the subject. But how to detect dyscalculia? And what is it actually?

"Dyscalculia should not be confused with a dislike of math or math anxiety, it is a diagnosed disability regarding how the brain functions with numbers. Dyscalculia is known to run in families, and people with dyscalculia are often also diagnosed with dyslexia or ADHD,” says Michelle Paster, an educational therapist in Massachusetts.

The big question is whether disorders like dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD are due to genetic, or educational and environmental factors, or both, which is not yet very clear. In any case, the most important thing, for parents and teachers, is to help their children as well as they can. Regarding dyscalculia, Dr. Santoshi Billakota, a neurologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University’s medical school, advises to be supportive about math within the household, to instill a growth mindset in reinforcing the crucial belief that math is something that anyone can practice and learn.

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Picture: Arcanys Early Learning Foundation