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Common Warning Signs of Dyscalculia in Children in Grades 9–12

Math Learning Disability Symptoms in TeensHas your teenager always struggled—in one way or another—with math and spatial concepts? Has math become an even greater challenge in high school? Dyscalculia refers to a range of learning disabilities involving math. Whether your teen’s math struggles have existed in some form over time or if they’ve suddenly become more prominent, you may want to review the following list of common warning signs of dyscalculia in high school students.

Everyone struggles with learning at times. Learning disabilities such as dyscalculia, however, persist over time. If your child has displayed any of the signs below for at least the past six months, it may be time to seek help from the school or other professionals. Dyscalculia affects people in different ways and may even vary over a person’s lifetime. For that reason, be sure to consider any other math-related challenges your child had in preschool and elementary school.

And because some of the “symptoms” listed below also apply to other types of LD’s and/or to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which often co-exist with dyscalculia, you may want to review our more comprehensive Interactive Learning Disabilities Checklist to clarify your concerns.

For At Least the Past Six Months, My Child Has Had Trouble

Math

  • Counting and calculating rapidly
  • Doing mental math
  • Learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts
  • Learning multiplication tables, formulas, and rules
  • Finding more than one way to solve a math problem
  • Learning math vocabulary
  • Making comparisons such as more than/less than
  • Estimating costs like grocery bills
  • Budgeting money and balancing a checkbook
  • Telling time

Visual-Spatial Sense

  • Understanding spatial directions (such as left and right)
  • Navigating in unfamiliar surroundings
  • Accurately judging speed and distance (when driving or playing sports)
  • Reading and interpreting charts and maps
  • Mastering number knowledge (recognizing the number of dots on dice without counting)
  • Accurately sensing the passage of time; sticking to a schedule

Social-Emotional

  • Feeling motivated and confident about learning
  • Joining peers to play games that require counting and math strategies
  • Feeling safe and confident doing activities that require a good sense of speed and distance (such as playing sports or learning to drive)
  • Responding appropriately to teasing or criticism by peers and adults who don’t understand his academic and practical struggles

Print out this article and note which items on the list apply to your child. If your teenager displays several of them, seek help right away by sharing the list with your child’s teachers or other professionals who you consult. Because dyscalculia is less common and not as well-understood as dyslexia, you may need to be patient but persistent during the assessment process. The good news is that with proper identification and support, your teenager will be better able to succeed in school, the workplace and in life.

Additional Resources

Tags: grade9-12