Implications for Learning

A view of the back of a person’s head with long, wavy black hair with blond highlights. The person is facing a blackboard filled with mathematical formulas. He or she is pulling at his or her hair.

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (2007):

Since disabilities involving math can be so different, the effects they have on a person's development can be just as different. For instance, a person who has trouble processing language will face different challenges in math than a person who has difficulty with visual - spatial relationships. Another person with trouble remembering facts and keeping a sequence of steps in order will have yet a different set of math-related challenges to overcome.
Difficulties may also arise because of weakness in visual-spatial skills, where a person may understand the needed math facts, but have difficulty putting them down on paper in an organized way. Visual-spatial difficulties can also make understanding what is written on a board or in a textbook challenging.
If basic math facts are not mastered, many teenagers and adults with dyscalculia may have difficulty moving on to more advanced math applications. Language processing disabilities can make it hard for a person to get a grasp of the vocabulary of math. Without the proper vocabulary and a clear understanding of what the words represent, it is difficult to build on math knowledge.
Success in more advanced math procedures requires that a person be able to follow multi-step procedures. For individuals with learning disabilities, it may be hard to visualize patterns, different parts of a math problem or identify critical information needed to solve equations and more complex problems.

Students with dyscalculia often have weaknesses in divided attention (processing two or more sets of information at once) as well as basic math fluency. They can complete basic math calculations accurately but cannot do so quickly. They will need longer than their peers to perform simple calculations. It is, however, important to know that their understanding and reasoning for mathematics are intact but they are predisposed to producing the incorrect response. Allowing these students a basic calculator will assist with the mechanics of a problem while the student would still have to demonstrate the required reasoning and know how to execute the computations.

Common Accommodations

The following accommodations and classroom adaptations are a list of suggested accommodations, but are not comprehensive or exhaustive, nor will all accommodations listed be necessary in all cases. Other accommodations may be implemented based on the individual needs of each student as recommended by your campus Disability Services Office or other professionals.

Common Characteristics of a Student with Dyscalculia Commonly Suggested Accommodations/Classroom Adaptations
Difficulty remembering number facts. Use of a basic (four-function) calculator on tests.
Difficulty completing lab work and tests in the allotted time. Extra time and a distraction-reduced location.
Student struggles to keep up with instructions given in class and with taking class notes. Use of note takers.
Student requires more guided practice and review of concepts in order to master them. Use of a tutor.
Difficulty remembering formulas, but has a strong understanding of how to apply them. Provide formula sheets.