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

In Scotland, 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.

IDLS would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some valuable insights into dyscalculia, the indicators and how to assess for it. It is estimated that between 5 per cent and 8 per cent 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

IDL Numeracy

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 six 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 nine months in mathematical ability after just three and a half hours use, and in a recent survey 100 per cent 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,” said the Deputy Headteacher for Etz Chaim Boys School

IDLS are offering Teachers’ Resource readers 20% off all products making IDL Numeracy just £319+VAT – a saving of £80! For a free 14 day trial visit www.idlsgroup.com or call 01524 580665