Dyscalculia and autism

Dyscalculia
SIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION

Dyscalculia makes calculations more difficult. Autistic people have dyscalculia more often than non-autistic people, but non-autistic people can also have dyscalculia.

Definition of dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a learning disability specific to mathematics, and is often compared to dyslexia, but unlike dyslexia (which affects reading), dyscalculia affects a person’s ability to understand and use numbers correctly. This strongly affects the person’s ability to learn mathematics and arithmetic.  It’s not related to the person’s intelligence but purely neurological, so it’s important not to blame them and to be patient.

Symptoms of dyscalculia

Statistics

2.95% of the adult population have dyscalculia
0.55% of the adult population has profound dyscalculia
3 to 8% of children are thought to have dyscalculia
2/3 have an associated cohucurence. Example: dyslexia, ADHD, etc.

Causes

Studies have demonstrated that this can be genetic, but it can also be caused by differences in certain parts of the brain. A lack of teaching in the child’s environment can also exacerbate the problem.

Reasons to seek consultation

If a child is particularly behind other people their age in math but not in any other areas.

If an adult has always had difficulty with mathematics, despite considerable effort.

If mathematics hinders the person’s daily life.

Tools

Professionals to consult

Interesting facts

Dyscalculia can take many forms, which means that two people with dyscalculia can have very different difficulties. In some cases, it can also affect the person's understanding of associated concepts such as geometry and spatial understanding, or it can create difficulty in locating dates on a timeline for the person.

Fictional examples

Charlie is 9 years old and has difficulty calculating 8 – 6 = 2, so she uses her fingers to count but still gets it wrong a lot.

Noah is 36 years old and always avoids splitting the bill in restaurants with friends because he finds it hard to determine how much everyone owes him.

Tips and tools

Dyscalculia Remediation Programs

Catherine Bouchard-Tremblay

Science popularizer