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Common Warning Signs of Dyscalculia in College Students and Adults

Math Learning Disability SymptomsIf you (or someone you care about) have always had a difficult time with math and spatial concepts, you may want to learn more about a learning disability called dyscalculia. Dyscalculia involves a range of math-related challenges. Below you’ll find a list of common warning signs of dyscalculia in college students and adults.

Everyone struggles with learning at times. Learning disabilities (LD) such as dyscalculia, however, persist over time. If you’ve experienced any of the signs below for at least the past six months, it may be time to seek professional help. 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 you’ve struggled with over the years.

Be aware that some of the “symptoms” listed below also apply to other types of LD’s and/or to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). You may want to review our more comprehensive Interactive Learning Disabilities Checklist to clarify your concerns.


For At Least the Past Six Months, I’ve Had Trouble


  • Counting and calculating rapidly
  • Doing mental math
  • Learning math concepts beyond the basic math facts
  • Using counting strategies (such as by 2, by 10, by 100, etc.)
  • Finding more than one way to solve a math problem
  • Learning math vocabulary
  • Estimating costs like grocery bills
  • Budgeting money and balancing a checkbook.

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


  • Feeling motivated and confident about learning at school and/or work
  • 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 driving)
  • Responding appropriately to teasing or criticism by people who don’t understand your academic and practical struggles
  • Feeling capable of managing personal/household finances

If you’ve said “yes!” to any of the items listed above, don't hesitate to seek help. Mark the appropriate items on a printout of this article and share it with a professional. Because dyscalculia is less common and not as well-understood as dyslexia, you may need to be patient but persistent during the evaluation process. The good news is that with proper identification and support, you’ll be better able to succeed in college, the workplace and in your daily life. As a bonus, you may become more confident and capable at carrying out the math-related tasks and activities that have until now been serious (or simply annoying) obstacles to your success!

Additional Resources

Tags: college-adult