Math Problems Could Spell Dyscalculia

Math problems can spell dyscalculia.  Solve this: “If you have $196 dollars and you spend $27, how much money do you have left?” If you are a math whiz you quickly knew the answer was $169 but perhaps you had to think about it, write it, ask Alexa, or use a calculator before knowing the answer.  The key here is you knew the basics of how to solve the problem. If you did not have technology, you could solve the math problem by hand.


Some children receive adequate math instruction but perform poorly in math due to a math learning disability called dyscalculia.  These children might grasp simple math but struggle with multistep math or math word problems.  They learn multiplication facts only to forget them.

What Causes Math Difficulty?

There are many reasons why a child might have math difficulty.  Consider the introductory math problem. What brain systems did you use to solve the problem?  One cognitive system which is important for math is visualization.  You might have visualized the numbers 196 and 27 in your mind as you visually regrouped and subtracted in your mind to solve the equation. Another important cognitive system is your working memory.  You had to hold 196 and 27 in your working memory while you performed the math operation.

A third cognitive system important for math is attention.  Regardless of using mental math or paper, you had to give great attention to detail as you solved the problem.  If you made one careless error, it doomed your answer.  Language is a fourth cognitive system involved in math.  You had to use language to understand “how much money do you have left” requires subtraction.  Math has other specialized vocabulary words such as sum, radius, and hypotenuse.  A fifth cognitive system needed for math is processing speed.  Your child is often timed on math tests or expected to rapidly know their basic addition, subtraction, or multiplication facts.

They Can’t Just  “Try Harder”

As you can see, telling your child to ‘try harder’ in math might not be the solution.  Our testing helps identify which of your child’s cognitive systems are working well and which ones might be causing a math learning disability and dyscalculia.  There are specialized math programs and learning strategies available to help children.

Call to discuss your child (561) 625 4125.