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 Is dyscalculia just as real as dyslexia?

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the_hill1962 Posted - 05/11/2006 : 10:28:09
Note, I have changed the "subject" of this topic from "Can everyone understand math?" to "Is dyscalculia just as real as dyslexia?"
I am hoping to get an idea of what to do with a student that just doesn't seem to be able to remember how to do simple arithmetic problems (such as convert fractions to decimals) after several varieties of teaching techniques over the course of 4 years.
This student is in the 10th grade 'probably' (dare I say definitely) will not pass the EXIT level test in math that is needed to graduate. I hate to "label" this student with any disability but it seems that dyslexia has become known as a real disorder in the educational arena (subject of reading) and it gives those students certain breaks when it comes to the state standardized test (special versions of the reading test, etc...). I am just wondering if anyone knows of anyone that has been diagnosed with dyscalculia and where a test to determine dyscalculia can be found. I saw on the Internet there is a book that can be purchased but I wondered if there is anything online. It seems that people with knowledge of a test for dyscalculia just want to profit from it and not do any free online type of test...
Just for history sake, I have kept the previous topic replies to "Can everyone understand math?" below. If anyone has anything new to add to this topic (now that I have changed the title), please reply.
Here is the original topic that I created:
What percentage of humans are born without the capability of understanding Algebra? Is it the same percentage as those not capable of understanding arithmetic?
I wonder this because it seems that all H.S. students that are not labeled to have a disability (in math), are required to understand Algebra. If a child gets through Jr. High math, it is assumed they will understand algebra. If a student fails at Algebra, it is said to be the teacher's fault since the student has passed math in the earlier grades and therefore has the capability of understanding Algebra.
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
the_hill1962 Posted - 04/25/2008 : 13:32:58
Thank you for your post andreaswanson1. However, I am not trying to find out if students with dyslexia have trouble with math. I am trying to find out if anyone knows of a student with dyscalculia. There are a couple websites that have been pointed out referencing the condition of dyscalculia but I have yet to find anyone that actually has known anyone with dyscalculia.
Is there anyone reading this that knows anything more about the condition than has already been posted here?
There are lots of resources for dyslexia diagnosis but there doesn't seem to be much about dyscalculia. Maybe the condition isn't real. It just seems to me that if students can get therapy and overcome dyslexia then maybe there is a way to do the same with dyscalculia (if there is such a condition).
quote:
Originally posted by andreaswanson1

Im not sure, but i have dyslexia and i scored 581 for 7th grade math. It trips me up on fractions sometimes, but i over came it. Maybe for others, it is not that easy.

the_hill1962 Posted - 04/22/2008 : 08:46:56
I suppose that I need to take the course
http://www.uth.tmc.edu/clinicalneuro/institute/2005/Course%20Syllabus%20Math%20Disorders2%20%282%29.doc
Thanks, uberclay, for pointing out the work by Stanislas Dehaene.
Mrspi, I probably do have an agenda going on and it is probably due to the situation that I am in. You state that you disagree with it. Why do you disagree with what you believe my agenda is?
I don't have the power to change state education regulations that require advanced algebra has the minimum math for graduation. I would just like to have more done in the way of determining if there is any disorder in math ability such as dyslexia has been done for reading and other disorders in other subjects. It is easy to see phyiscal disabilities. Not all children can run quickly. I just don't think that all children can understand advanced algebra. In most school systems, that is a roadblock for obtaining a diploma.
uberclay Posted - 03/06/2008 : 01:00:51
In Where Mathematics Comes From (George Lakeoff | Rafael E. Nunez), Chapter 1, they list some parts of the brain that deal with mathematics

The Inferior Parietal Cortex - involved in symbolic numerical abilities

Here they discuss:

Epilepsia Arithmetices, a rare form of epileptic seizures that occurs when doing arithmetic calculations.

A patient of Stanislas Dehaene, Mr. M (who had a lesion on his inferior parietal cortex), lost his knowledge of number sequence and ability to do simple arithmetic. More interestingly, other sequential information (The alphabet, days of the week, etc...) and his rote memory were unaffected.

The Prefrontal Cortex - involved in complex arithmetic calculation and sequential operations.

"Patients with frontal lesions have difficulty using the multiplication algorithm, adding when they should multiply, forgetting to carry over, not processing digits in the right order."

Subcortical Basal Ganglia - involved in rote memorization

This section of the book concludes that rote calculation, basic arithmetic, and algebraic abilities are all localized separately.

Unfortunately the book doesn't go any deeper into this.

You may be interested in some of the work by Stanislas Dehaene, or works that reference some of his studies.
http://books.google.ca/books?ct=title&q=Stanislas+Dehaene&btnG=Search+Books
the_hill1962 Posted - 03/05/2008 : 10:34:44
I would like to 'change gears' with this topic/thread.
Instead of starting a new thread titled "calculation and reasoning", I will just post here:
In the "accommodations" section of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills), it states this about "Calculation Devices":
If a student's disability affects mathematics calculation but not reasoning, a calculator or other assistive device may be used.
My question is what sort of disability would affect only "mathematics calculation"? Does anyone know of any?
My research into "dyscalculia" has led me to believe that dyscalculia is a disorder that affects a person's ability to follow a series of logical steps. Am I wrong? Maybe it is a disorder that ONLY affects mathematics calculation? I read through all the accomodations and I could not find anything that states if a student has a disability that affects reasoning.
So, the only possible disability in math (according to the state of Texas) is an impairment with calculation and that no student could possibly have an impairment with reasoning.
This does not make sense to me.
I appreciate the comments and posts everyone has made so far in this topic. If anyone knows of a disability that "affects mathematics calculation but not reasoning", please let me know.
msakowski Posted - 02/25/2008 : 08:32:31
Ultimately, the motivation does have to come from one's self. We can not "externally" motivate. We can, however, lead students to be self-motivated by "selling" the idea that education in math is beneficial in many different ways.

quote:
Originally posted by the_hill1962

I had never heard of "Rudy". Thanks for sharing the story. In reading your post, I see that you specifically put the phrase "through self motivation". If someone does not like something, then the motivation has to come from another source besides "self". For the struggling math student, it is the fact that math is required to graduate. There is also the student that already likes math but still does not do well with it and still does not graduate because of failing the standard math test. This is the type of person that I am refering to.
I have asked the question, "Can all people understand advanced algebra concepts?" before. The only answer that I have seen is that "Algebra2 is not a hard subject".
quote:
Originally posted by msakowski

It is fairly obvious that not all people can do equally well in all things. But, motivation can help all people to do the very best they are capable of doing in any given field. One example that comes to mind is "Rudy", the young man determined to attend Notre Dame and play on the Notre Dame football team, despite his academic and physical shortcomings (5'6" and 165 lbs). Through self motivation and determination, he did it. He managed to get accepted into Notre Dame and graduate (I assume). And on the football team only played two plays at the end of a game to record a quarterback sack, but he played. According to the site below, Daniel Ruettiger was also dyslexic.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ruettiger



Subhotosh Khan Posted - 02/22/2008 : 09:44:18
I am not in "school teaching" line so this question may be irrelevent.

Are n't there different tracks available for high school students?

In Delaware, during the 90's, I know studunts could go to vocational school where the curriculum was different.

I don't know what the situation is now.
Mrspi Posted - 02/19/2008 : 22:04:46
quote:
Originally posted by the_hill1962

YET-Do you think that dyscalculia is real? Yes
MOST-Do you think that there are some students that just can't pass Algebra2?
I guess I would be a fool if I said that EVERY student could pass Algebra 2, but I still believe that most can
side
-In this sentence you have lumped "interest" and "ability" together with the word "or". I have been pondering what the relationship is. Is there a limit to "ability"? Just because someone might have "interest", does that mean hard work will guarantee success? There shouldn't have to be well, interest and ability are NOT the same...but, if a student has one OR the other, the chances of success are markedly improved.
sides to choose but, of course, that is life. Students don't have a choice anymore. Has the number GOOD engineers really increased percentage wise since math and science requirements have increased? How about the percentage of GOOD doctors? A student that has "ability" AND "interest" in math and/or science is the one that should be taking Algebra2 with his/her peers (of the same high ability and interest). Now, these students are put into the same class as those with lower ability and no interest. This has created the problem of today. Well, maybe there is no problem... Obviously, teaching a class with students of varying ability AND interest levels is a challenge. It is easy and fun to teach bright, interested students. It is MUCH harder, and lots less fun to try to motivate those "others" to succeed in something like Algebra 2. You won't win them all. The state can't COMPEL you to win them all.
state standards-I read an article that indicated many states have standards that really are an illusion. It seems to be an "all or nothing" type of system. A student has a certain minimum ability at EVERYTHING or not. If a student doesn't meet at least a minimum standard in each subject, then the student does not get the stamp of approval. Some states are moving to a system where there is some give and take. The higher ability shown in one subject can allow a lower minimum standard in another subject. That may seem terrible but when you think about it, isn't it better to at least have 'real' high standards kept in all subjects and just hold those students with that particular ability to it instead of having lower standards in all subjects just so that ALL STUDENTS can pass?
may and higher ability-Do you agree that there are students with higher ability in some subjects than others? Some state education agencies are starting to think this way.



You know, TheHill...I think you've got an agenda going here (understandable, due to the situation you're in, I guess) that I don't quite agree with. As I said in an earlier post...you can beat yourself to death against the wall you're up against, or you can look elsewhere for something more fulfilling.
Mrspi Posted - 02/08/2008 : 20:19:30
Students diagnosed with dyslexia are usually provided assistance (through special education programs) to find ways to deal with this particular learning disability. Many of them are successful in regular education classes once they have some "tools" to handle this disability.

I think the same might be true for students who have "discalculia"....but I don't think there are YET many programs to address this problem.

Algebra 2 is not a terribly "advanced" math class. In my experience (teaching this subject for some 20 years), MOST students who really want to pass this class WILL... They'll ask for extra help. They'll use the "math lab" if your school has one. Their parents will hire a tutor.

Now, kids who say "I hate math" and who won't put forth much effort don't fall into this category. Failing Algebra 2 is a "merit badge" for them.

You can side with the failures, or the MANY students who don't have particular interest or ability in math, but DO have the drive to work hard and succeed.

I sense your frustration here...you are in a situation where you're dealing with state standards. As I see it, you have two choices...work with the system and do the very best you can, or perhaps move to a private school which may very well have students at a higher ability level (AND parents who will support you!). Or...you could decide that teaching may not be your best option.
the_hill1962 Posted - 02/08/2008 : 16:05:52
I had never heard of "Rudy". Thanks for sharing the story. In reading your post, I see that you specifically put the phrase "through self motivation". If someone does not like something, then the motivation has to come from another source besides "self". For the struggling math student, it is the fact that math is required to graduate. There is also the student that already likes math but still does not do well with it and still does not graduate because of failing the standard math test. This is the type of person that I am refering to.
I have asked the question, "Can all people understand advanced algebra concepts?" before. The only answer that I have seen is that "Algebra2 is not a hard subject".
quote:
Originally posted by msakowski

It is fairly obvious that not all people can do equally well in all things. But, motivation can help all people to do the very best they are capable of doing in any given field. One example that comes to mind is "Rudy", the young man determined to attend Notre Dame and play on the Notre Dame football team, despite his academic and physical shortcomings (5'6" and 165 lbs). Through self motivation and determination, he did it. He managed to get accepted into Notre Dame and graduate (I assume). And on the football team only played two plays at the end of a game to record a quarterback sack, but he played. According to the site below, Daniel Ruettiger was also dyslexic.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ruettiger

msakowski Posted - 02/08/2008 : 09:32:43
It is fairly obvious that not all people can do equally well in all things. But, motivation can help all people to do the very best they are capable of doing in any given field. One example that comes to mind is "Rudy", the young man determined to attend Notre Dame and play on the Notre Dame football team, despite his academic and physical shortcomings (5'6" and 165 lbs). Through self motivation and determination, he did it. He managed to get accepted into Notre Dame and graduate (I assume). And on the football team only played two plays at the end of a game to record a quarterback sack, but he played. According to the site below, Daniel Ruettiger was also dyslexic.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ruettiger
the_hill1962 Posted - 02/01/2008 : 07:46:52
Subhotosh, thank you for the reply. You always seem to take the stance that everyone can learn math. I don't think it was you that stated Algebra2 is not really an "advanced math course" but it was mentioned by someone somewhere in this forum. So, maybe I am way off base here. However, galactus does seem to agree with me that not everyone can learn math (and galactus is talking about BEGINNING algebra and whatever math 83 is). msakowski seems to think it is a matter of motivation. Do you agree with msakowski? Do you think that everyone can learn math? Do you think there is no such thing as dyscalculia? The phrase that a person "can do anything once they set their mind to it" comes to mind here. I think that is a problem. I don't think everyone can do anything. Gee, I should go back to school and go for a phD.
quote:
Originally posted by galactus

These days, A.D.D and bipolar seem to be the catchall for most learning disabilities or 'excuse conditions'. At a community college, where I teach and tutor, I have been trying and trying to get some students through math 83 and beginning algebra.
Math 83 is pre-algebra; It's as low as it goes. These students do not have the mental capacity to understand basic arithmetic, let alone go onto college algebra. They can not understand nor retain anything. It's sad to see someone flunk out of college because it just isn't there, no matter how much they try and get tutored. I asked a student, "what is 9 times 2"?.
They said, "5....uh....I don't know". I have them counting their fingers when asked, "what is 6 minus 5"?. Come on. What are these people going to do even if they manage to get through college?.
I know it isn't politically correct to say, but some just aren't able to comprehend because their IQ's run around 60-70. No matter how much government money is squandered, short of a brain transplant, what can be done?.

Subhotosh Khan Posted - 01/24/2008 : 12:15:01
If we agree that mathematics is just a form of language - then I do not see any reason for people to say "I can learn english - with or without dyslexia" - but ""I cannot learn mathematics - because I have dyscalculia".

After all why do we want people to go through school?

They need a piece of paper that says that they have achieved some level of proficiency in "something". That statement - they have achieved some level of proficiency in "something" - will "certify" that they are fit to do certain job - or go to the next level of education such that more options will be open for them.

Thus we need to "test" and "measure" - and declare that somebody is "excellent" or "proficient" or "adequate" or "inadequate" in a chosen subject. If it is decided that there is no need for some "track" to have algebra - we can remove that requirement - but we have locked the student in that track. That was exactly what the Russians did - those students were "tracked" since elementary school. Do we want to risk that?

I suppose not. And thus we require at least "adequate" level of knowledege in large number of subjects - such that when that magical day of being adult comes (day afte the 18 th birthday)- we can "choose" to be anything. So we want at least adequate knowledge in literature, history, mathematics, science and politics - such that we can make choices in life.

Enough grumbling.....
the_hill1962 Posted - 12/19/2007 : 07:51:08
The three main issues mentioned in the replies for this topic deal with "IQ", "interest level" and "talent".
Are there any relationships between these three things?
For example, if a person has a talent for math, does he/she necessarily have a higher IQ than 'low' or is necessarily interested in math? I don't know how true the plot in the "Rain Man" movie is (or if it is pure fiction) but it comes to mind here.
OR, if a person has a high IQ and a high interest level in math, can he/she obtain a great talent in it? The great mathematicians have but CAN everyone with high IQ and high interest level obtain a great talent in it?
How about if a person has a below average IQ and is interested in math, does that necessarily mean that person CAN develop a talent in it?
How about if a person has an average IQ and is interested in math, does that necessarily mean that person WILL get passing scores on standardized H.S. math exams? OF course the question of quality of this persons teachers might come into play. I think this may be where dyscalculia could be involved.
How about just considering "interest" and "ability/talent"? How much relationship between the two is there?
msakowski, thanks for the link http://www.dyscalculia.org/calc.html
I had been on the main page and looked at some of the associated pages but I didn't see the /calc.html one. A student that I have does exhibit many of the indicators. I think that most people exhibit at least a couple of the indicators.
I am going to show the list to the principal at my school and see what might develop.
msakowski Posted - 12/17/2007 : 11:07:33
quote:
Originally posted by the_hill1962

That is a good website, msakowski.
Thanks for sharing. Hopefully it will help a particular student that I have. I don't know what else to do. I am thinking she may have a true case of "dyscalculia" but since I can't seem to find any tests for dyscalculia, it is only speculation.
We have tests for dyslexia but not dyscalculia. Does anyone know where a test can be found for dyscalculia?



Thanks for the compliment. It really helps to keep me going!

Hopefully, a lot of folks will make use of at least some of the things from the project I am working on. The videos should be helpful to most any instructor of high school algebra. And all materials are free for any instructor to use online or download and use off line.

With regard to dyscalculia, go to http://www.dyscalculia.org/calc.html to read a bit more. I was once a tutor to LD students and a few were diagnosed with this. Unlike dyslexia, which clearly shows as a discrepency between ability and results due to a scrambling of letters, dyscalculia seemed harder to recognize using the ability vs. results definition. It almost seemed to be more just an extreme difficulty with the area of math, just like some (like myself) are not as good at memory-intensive subjects like history facts. Or some have natural ability in art or music where as others don't. That does not mean the student can not succeed, it just means that they will have to work a bit harder and use a variety of strategies. So maybe the videos (see http://www.mathmotivation.com/all-applications.html ) on my site can help your student since they could possibly help your student visualize math better and cut through the abstraction. Or at the least, give meaning to the abstraction.
Mrspi Posted - 12/13/2007 : 20:01:08
There's also the problem of students failing to learn (memorize....but I know that's a BAD term) basic arithmetic facts.

I tutored a very bright student....who didn't know basic multiplication facts when I started with her in 8th grade, and STILL didn't when she graduated from high school last year. I made all kinds of suggestions about how she might learn these facts (flash cards, etc) and also had a serious talk with her mother, very early on. Both the student and her Mom said basically "she doesn't learn that way."

Well, I took their money for tutoring....I "ragged" on the girl at every opportunity, saying that I was SURE that if learning multiplication facts was important to her, she'd do it (and I'm POSITIVE that was the case). When she graduated from high school and gained a scholarship admission to Cornell, she still could not tell you the greatest common factor of 36 and 40....

Not one of my proudest moments, to be sure. When the student and the parent do not see the importance of basic skills, there's not much we can do. This was NOT a learning disability. This was a flat-out refusal to do what was necessary to learn some very basic stuff.

Like I said, I took their money for 5 years.....
galactus Posted - 12/13/2007 : 18:41:35
These days, A.D.D and bipolar seem to be the catchall for most learning disabilities or 'excuse conditions'. At a community college, where I teach and tutor, I have been trying and trying to get some students through math 83 and beginning algebra.
Math 83 is pre-algebra; It's as low as it goes. These students do not have the mental capacity to understand basic arithmetic, let alone go onto college algebra. They can not understand nor retain anything. It's sad to see someone flunk out of college because it just isn't there, no matter how much they try and get tutored. I asked a student, "what is 9 times 2"?.
They said, "5....uh....I don't know". I have them counting their fingers when asked, "what is 6 minus 5"?. Come on. What are these people going to do even if they manage to get through college?.
I know it isn't politically correct to say, but some just aren't able to comprehend because their IQ's run around 60-70. No matter how much government money is squandered, short of a brain transplant, what can be done?.
the_hill1962 Posted - 12/13/2007 : 07:56:57
That is a good website, msakowski.
Thanks for sharing. Hopefully it will help a particular student that I have. I don't know what else to do. I am thinking she may have a true case of "dyscalculia" but since I can't seem to find any tests for dyscalculia, it is only speculation.
We have tests for dyslexia but not dyscalculia. Does anyone know where a test can be found for dyscalculia?
This topic has gone to more than one page. For those of you not familiar with this forum, you must click on the page link below to get to the next pages.
msakowski Posted - 09/13/2007 : 11:38:30
For whatever reason, I am not seeing the most recent post of yesterday. I will chime in anyway.

For sure, each person has different strengths. And we all can hopefully agree that students need to master basic arithmetic skills like adding two simple fractions (without a calculator if need be), interpreting decimals correctly, working with percents, etc. These are life skills.

But how much algebra should be required by all students? Those that have read my previous posts know that I believe that Algebra has benefits that extend beyond the subject of mathematics. If you have not read my posts, go to http://www.mathmotivation.com to see what I have been working on as part of my sabbatical project. That said, I don't know if it is a wise idea to force all students to take more than an elementary algebra course. If you force all into advanced algebra, then ultimately you may see the advanced algebra course being watered down to accommodate all students of all abilities and interest levels.

My approach is to work on motivating students to want to take as much math as possible. Students will perform if they are motivated.

Take my 14-yr old son for example: If he is given a new topic in math, he gets "stuck" as he tells me. He doesn't bother to read the book or use any other of the many supplemental materials available. Yet he is bright and with a few minutes of individual instruction, he easily masters the topic. Give this same 14-yr old a convoluted piece of software for designing his own computer games, and he digs into all the tutorials and quickly masters all instructions. It's all about motivation. Recently, I showed him my research on the math needed in order to become a professional game designer (see http://www.mathmotivation.com/science/computergames.html) and he seems to have a better attitude toward learning math, although in his opinion math still pales in comparison to his computer game software.
Mrspi Posted - 08/05/2007 : 22:35:59
quote:
Originally posted by David

It's too bad this site seems to be rather dead.




It is sad, and the trend seems to carry through at the other "math help" sites I frequent. I sure don't what is going on...I know that it is summer, but previous summers have not been this quiet.

Here's hoping that activity will pick up when school starts soon.

Mrspi Posted - 04/18/2007 : 18:05:45
quote:
Originally posted by the_hill1962

Is there anyone else that agrees? Gee, I feel a bunch of negative vibes coming on. I probably shouldn't have started this topic.
Mrspi---are you following this thread? It seems that I read a post that you made where you mentioned something along the lines of this "ivory tower" concept. I believe that you called it a "glass house" or something...?
If you arefollowing this thread, I also have a question for you (not related to this thread). Is the PATHway site down? I get disconnected as soon as I enter the "live help".



Yep...I've been following this thread with interest. Imagine if all high school students were required to complete Advanced Art or 3rd year Spanish for graduation.....not everyone has the same interest or talents, obviously. And not all students can be (or are interested in being) successful in advanced algebra.

PATH is not experiencing any difficulties at present...I can't understand why you're getting disconnected, and I'm sorry to hear that you are. We could sure use your help!


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