What is Dyscalculia?

Often seen as related to dyslexia, those with dyscalculia (sometimes known as number blindness) show great difficulty with numeracy, arithmetic and mathematical concepts.

People with dyscalculia may have difficulties with the following:

Difficulties associate with dyscalculia include: counting backwards, difficulty reading analogue clocks, memorising numbers, prices and phone numbers, carrying and borrowing, placing values, planning, scheduling and being on time, school time tables and deadlines.

Dycalculia can cause difficulties at school or college and possibly limits some career choices once full-time education is finished. It can also hinder every day activities for adults such as budgeting, driving and navigating, cooking, DIY / home maintenance, train time tables, helping their children with their homework and more.

You might think that dyscalculia wouldn’t be a great disadvantage as every phone has a calculator and every shop terminal can calculate.  In fact, extreme cases, those with dyscalculia may never be able to cope with shop work.

Whilst a spreadsheet may be configured to perform the necessary calculations, those with dyscalculia may find they lose track of numbers they are entering, get digits back to front, or frequently repeat a digit too many times, or miss digits. Merely copying down a phone number can prove very stressful and time consuming, with the person checking it repeatedly. However, the copy and paste functions of computers and phones, and text to speech, and speech to text functionality can assist.

Cause of Dyscalculia

It is thought that dyscalculia results from an abnormal development part of the brain which deals with mathematical concepts. It is likely there may be a genetic link. Environment is also thought to be responsible, including consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, and premature birth.

Assessment & Diagnosis

If a parent is concerned, they can discuss with the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) or GP.

Just as with dyslexia, dyscalculia is not necessarily associated with low intelligence. It just indicates a difficulty with one function of the brain. Those with dyscalculia may still have excellent communication and other skills and iansyst Ltd has developed a dyscalculia screener for adults and those in post-16 education in conjunction with Loughborough University. This can be found at:

The screener can help screen people who have been struggling with numbers whether at school, University, or in the workplace. It will indicate whether the person is having numeracy problems and what are their weakest areas.


Children may be taught the benefits of self-advocacy, taking an interest in their condition, not being afraid to talk about it, and understanding there may be many things t they are talented at. Of course, extra maths coaching may also be helpful.

Some medication may assist with conditions sometimes seen related to dyscalculia, such as ADHD and anxiety, however there is no particular medication that can exclusively help the condition. An understanding school environment can reduce stress and anxiety for the student.

Number Shark

The new Numbershark version 5 reinforces numeracy and improves understanding and use of numbers. Addresses poor attention span, short term memory and math difficulties.

Assistive Technology and Workplace Coaching

We can advise on how our assistive technology products can help. Products on the market include mathematical and textural speech recognition, and talking calculators.  In addition, iansyst can provide assistive technology products for conditions which are sometimes seen in conjunction with dyscalculia. These include dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and SLI (specific language impairment).

Dyscalculia is recognised as an official disability and management have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the condition and their responsibilities. We can provide workplace coaching, where for example dyscalculia impacts on such things as time keeping, scheduling, work load planning, calculations and completion of numerical reports, and can also assist managers in their role.

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