dyscalculia is the technical term for calculation weakness. Those affected have great difficulty understanding and applying the simplest mathematics. This usually occurs in elementary school or even in kindergarten. To confirm the suspicion, a series of tests must be performed. The treatment is based on an individual dyscalculia promotion, to avoid disadvantages due to the dyscalculia. Read more about dyscalculia here!

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. F81ArtikelübersichtDyskalkulie

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • Testing
  • treatment
  • Rechentraining
  • Disease course and prognosis

Dyscalculia: description

The answer to the question "What is dyscalculia?" Is in short: a profound difficulty in dealing with mathematics. Consequently, the dyscalculia is also referred to as dyscalculia. It belongs to the so-called learning disorders. This group of developmental disorders may involve various abilities such as reading, writing or arithmetic - these do not develop "normally". Background is a defined failure of brain services.

The dyscalculia must be differentiated from a later occurring, acquired Akalkulie (calculating disability). An alkaline calculus occurs, for example, as a result of a stroke.

A mathematical weakness is discovered in almost all cases already in childhood. The dyscalculia definition also includes the fact that poor calculus can not be explained by low education, reduced intelligence or sensory disturbances such as deafness. Dyscalculia is thus characterized by a mismatch of expected and actual benefits. Affected people have big problems with numbers and quantities. This will make it difficult or even impossible for them to capture simple invoices. On the other hand, problems that become apparent only with higher mathematical requirements are generally incompatible with a dyscalculia.

Due to the dyscalculia not only the achievements in mathematics, but also in physics or chemistry lessons are weak. Affected children often have problems in everyday situations such as reading the clock.

Combination with other disorders

In addition to dyscalculia, many sufferers still have other disorders, especially combined reading-spelling disorders or an attention deficit syndrome (ADHD). Studies in the US show that over 50 percent of children with reading disabilities also show poor mathematical performance. Conversely, more than 40 percent of children with dyscalculia also had signs of reading difficulties.

Dyscalculia: frequency
In Germany, between three and seven percent of children and adolescents have a dyscalculia. Girls are affected more often than boys.

Interestingly enough, the mathematical dysfunction in American children is more common than in Germany. Maybe differences in the school system are partly responsible for this.

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Dyscalculia: symptoms

In a dyscalculia sufferers have no or wrong ideas of calculation steps. The handling of the decimal system also presents the children with significant difficulties. Numbers are not understood as quantities, but as a symbol. That's why pay-diners often sneak in. However, there is no clear symptom combination that defines dyscalculia.

Usually, the dyscalculia falls on the fact that the affected children can no longer follow the lessons and drop their benefits. Although there may already be indications of a present dyscalculia in the kindergarten age, a mathematical weakness can initially go unnoticed even at school age.

If, on the other hand, there are problems with numbers in a new-school student, this does not necessarily mean that there is a dyscalculia: around one-third of the children who have difficulty with numbers in the first school year achieve average performance in the following years and thus have no dyscalculia. However, if a calculation weakness becomes obvious later, especially after the fifth grade, it usually does not disappear by itself.

Dyscalculia symptoms in kindergarten or preschool

Even at kindergarten age there may be evidence of an increased risk of dyscalculia. However, recognizing a dyscalculia is not always easy at this age. Possible signs at this age may be problems with ratios and counting. Even getting into the handling of units (such as weight) and the decimal system is difficult.

Dyscalculia Symptoms in Primary School

In elementary school, dyscalculia is often more noticeable. In contrast to classmates affected children show knowledge gaps when dealing with numbers, such as when it comes to writing or naming numbers. Mathematical calculations are hardly understood. This is what teachers usually realize that these children need much more time than their peers. To solve the arithmetic problems tools such as finger counting are also used. Dealing with quantities is also much more difficult in dyscalculia. In addition, arithmetic is often confused.

Dyscalculia symptoms in everyday life

In addition to the weak math achievements in school arise for children with dyscalculia in everyday life, a variety of difficulties. For example, reading the clock and dealing with money can be a major challenge for those affected.

Mental stress

The experience of those affected by dyscalculia often results in problematic behaviors and conspicuous problem avoidance behavior. On the one hand, the children often withdraw and develop (examination) anxiety, depressive symptoms and somatic complaints. Somatic complaints are physical symptoms such as headache or abdominal pain, for which no organic cause can be found.

On the other hand, attention deficits, delinquent and aggressive behavior can develop. Statistically, children with dyscalculia are more likely to have mental symptoms than unaffected children. Overall, the dyscalculia leads to a very high mental burden for the children.

In addition, the symptoms of possibly existing comorbidities such as ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders or disorders of social behavior.

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Dyscalculia: causes and risk factors

The handling of numbers and mathematical calculations places high demands on the child's brain, which is developing and constructing ever more complex neural networks. Researchers assume that a basic mathematical understanding is innate. Already in the first week of life, small quantities can usually be distinguished.

Mathematical skills are independent of language skills or intelligence. They are an independent part of thinking. Nevertheless, it is clear that the processing of mathematical tasks is not completely detached from language. It is therefore necessary to recognize and understand the mathematical terminology. Reading spelling disorders complicate this process and are therefore often associated with a dyscalculia.

There are a variety of models that try to explain the dyscalculia causes. They take into account the individual steps required to capture mathematical processes. The basis is the understanding of a mathematical problem and suitable problem-solving strategies. This includes the processing of logical processes with an understanding of details, but also the ability to learn and to have a sufficient working memory. In order to be able to visualize especially geometric tasks, a good visual-spatial imagination must also exist.

Dyscalculia causes so far unclear

To date, it is quite unclear how and why exactly a computer trouble arises. In studies, a subactivity of the brain regions responsible for arithmetic could be shown. This also explains that those affected include numbers such as "empty words" to which they can not assign any further meaning. To calculate, several areas of the brain must be used. Scientists suspect that a developmental and activity disorder in these regions is responsible for the "math problem".

Studies with families and twins also suggest that dyscalculia is inheritable to some extent. About 45 percent of those affected have relatives with learning disabilities. However, a specific gene that could be responsible for the disorder has not been identified. Even in the context of genetic diseases such as Turner syndrome or phenylketonuria dyscalculia may occur.

Early childhood brain disorders and epilepsy can also trigger a calculation weakness. In addition, psychosocial and didactic factors play an important role.

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Dyscalculia: examinations and diagnosis

A dyscalculia should be diagnosed as early as possible, so that the affected child can receive appropriate support in addition to school lessons. Only in this way can gaps in knowledge be quickly closed, and the child does not lose touch with the lesson.

But even before school age, ie in kindergarten, there may be indications of a risk of dyscalculia. These include abnormalities when dealing with basic mathematical tasks. Often, these initial difficulties but also again.

In the diagnosis of school age, the teachers should necessarily be included. They can use their experience to identify and analyze child weaknesses. Often the teachers are not only subject to technical limitations but also disorders of social behavior.

Diagnostic conversation

Specialists in learning disabilities are child and adolescent psychiatrists or psychotherapists. To initiate the diagnostic interview, it is important that both the parents and the affected child are asked about the computational weakness. Often, misunderstandings must already be clarified at this point.

The child should describe how it feels the dyscalculia and what difficulties from his point of view exist. The examiner can then estimate what burdens result from the calculation weakness.

Afterwards, the parents are discussed in detail about the dyscalculia symptoms of the child. Also possible linguistic and motor development disorders should be discussed. There may also be mental stress that reduces the child's drive. Lastly, the family situation should be analyzed in detail to identify any family burdens. Finally, the question must be clarified whether measures against the dyscalculia have already been initiated or carried out.