What is Dyscalculia? IDLS look at how to identify and assess it in schools

Source: IDL Group

02 September 2019

Dyscalculia is an under-researched learning difficulty and as a result, there is little guidance for teachers on how to support learners with the condition. We've condensed some valuable insights into dyscalculia, the indicators and how to assess for it in this article.

It is estimated that between 5% and 8% of children in the UK have dyscalculia.
What is Dyscalculia?

Many academics have tried to define dyscalculia. The below definitions are the ones most commonly used:
  • Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. (DfES 2001)
  • A congenital condition: its effects on the learning of numerical skills can be very profound. (Butterworth)
  • Dysfunction in the reception, comprehension or production of quantitative and spatial information (Sharma)

Indicators of Dyscalculia

There are many indicators of dyscalculia and not all of them are Maths related. These include:
  • An inability to subitise even very small quantities
  • Poor number sense
  • An inability to estimate whether a numerical answer is reasonable
  • Inability to notice patterns
  • Inability to generalise
  • Slow processing speed
  • Weaknesses in both short term and long term memory
  • An inability to count backwards reliably
  • Weakness in visual and spatial orientation
  • Difficulty with language
  • Poor memory for facts and procedures
  • Problems with all aspects of money
  • Marked delay in learning to tell the time

­­How do you Identify and Assess for Dyscalculia?

There are numerous means of testing for dyscalculia. Below are the most widely used techniques for recognising or diagnosing dyscalculia:
  • Questionnaires or checklists such as the BDA Dyscalculia Checklist
  • Observation – the key things here are to observe how they attempt a question, look for signs for stress and encouraging the learner to verbalise how they are attempting the maths
  • Use a screener – IDLS are currently developing an online Dyscalculia Screener that will provide you with a quick and easy way of recognising specific numerical SEN needs in pupils aged 6 and above

Numeracy Intervention  

IDL Numeracy is a software programme developed to help learners with dyscalculia and lower level maths ability. Learners have shown an average improvement of 9 months in mathematical ability after just 3.5 hours use, and in a recent survey 100% of schools said they would recommend the programme.

“The students at our school have benefitted greatly from IDL Literacy over the years, the multi-sensory approach along with the easy analytical and re-testing tools make IDL a central part of our strategy.  Our school was privileged to have an early insight into the IDL Numeracy, our students have engaged successfully with its approach and we saw immediate progress being made.” Deputy Headteacher, Etz Chaim Boys School

For a free 14 day trial of IDL Numeracy or IDL Literacy, find IDL Group at the Tes SEN Show at stand 104, visit www.idlsgroup.com or call 01524 580665.