Blog 3: 19th February
I am often told by educationalists that it is bad to "label" people.
All the dyscalculics I have worked with tell me that it is far, far
better to be labelled dyscalculic than to be labelled stupid, not
only because of the ways others see them, but, perhaps more
importantly, how they see themselves.
There was a post on a dyscalculia facebook group earlier this year.
It said "Do I tell my 10 year old about having dyscalculia? My doctor
recommends not telling her, but she seems to be telling herself
she is dumb." It has elicited 107 comments so far. Almost all
of the comments rejected the doctor's advice.
Here are some examples.
I wish I was told. I would have been better at other
subjects instead thinking I was stupid.
If I had known this as a child, I would not have grown
up feeling inferior and stupid; I might have faced the terrible self-doubting
teens without considering suicide; I would not have needed so much therapy
to be able to live in my own skin.
I didn't get diagnosed with dyscalculia and dyspraxia
until I was 38 and I wish I knew sooner.
I always wished I knew sooner. I wasn't diagnosed till
I was almost 19 and almost all my life I thought I was stupid. When I
was diagnosed everything clicked and made sense.
Of course, if she is not told, and finds out later that
her suffering has been in vain for nothing, that could be a problem.
If you do keep it under wraps, when she does find out,
guess who she will be mad at? and then she will question if you were
embarrassed by her and something, you, nor she had no control over.
I would question [the doctor's] ethics ?
Not only does it resolve personal insecurities, it can
lead a better understanding of the problem, improve self-knowledge and
It can also can help define what the learner needs,
at least in general terms, as in the following comment.
I knew when I was in grade school and it helped
me understand myself a bit better. I never let it hold me back
but knew WHY things were harder.
It's a learning difference and if she can get to
understand what that really means then it will help her in the long
run and be able to self advocate.
And it can lead to more appropriate
methods of learning.
I have argued that dyscalculia can be understood as a deficit in the most
basic capacity for number - the "core deficit" - upon which everything in
number work is built. What this means in practice is that most of what you
find blindingly obvious Šso obvious, in fact, that you don't even realise
that you know it - dyscalculics may struggle with. This is because the
relationship between numbers and sets is not secure. Here are some
things that you know that dyscalculics may not know:
Numbers are composed of other numbers: 4 can be composed of 1, 1, 1 and 1,
or 2 and 2, etc. The parts of 4 are called "partitions" and there are 5
partitions of 4. These are very easy to see in terms of sets.
□□□□ can be broken down into ones
(□, □, □, □) into two subsets of two
(□□, □□), etc.
Addition is commutative: 3 + 5 is the same as 5 + 3
□□□ + □□□□□
□□□□□ + □□□
Addition and subtraction are inverse operations: if 5 + 3 = 8, then 8 - 5 =
3 and 8 - 3 = 5
Many good special needs teachers understand this analysis, even they have never
heard of dyscalculia. So once you have the label, you can look for one of
these teachers to help your child. It must be said, though, that few
special needs teachers, and even fewer mainstream class teachers,
have been specially trained to help dyscalculics. This is quite
different from dyslexia, where there now are many properly
trained teachers of dyslexic learners.
All is not lost. There are now several books of intervention schemes specially
designed for dyscalculics based on this analysis:
One final comment: