Mathematics disorder

  • Definition
    • Mathematics disorder is a condition in which a child's math ability is far below normal for their age, intelligence, and education.

  • Alternative Names
    • Developmental dyscalculia

  • Causes
  • Symptoms
    • The child may have trouble with math, as well as low scores in math classes and on tests.

      Problems the child may have are:

      • Trouble with reading, writing, and copying numbers
      • Problems counting and adding numbers, often making simple mistakes
      • Hard time telling the difference between adding and subtracting
      • Problems understanding math symbols and word problems
      • Can't line up numbers properly to add, subtract, or multiply
      • Can't arrange numbers from smallest to largest, or the opposite
      • Can't understand graphs
  • Exams and Tests
    • Standardized tests can assess the child's math ability. Grades and class performance can also help.

  • Treatment
    • The best treatment is special (remedial) education. Computer-based programs may also help.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Early intervention improves the chances of a better outcome.

  • Possible Complications
    • The child may have problems in school, including behavior problems and loss of self-esteem. Some children with mathematics disorder become anxious or afraid when given math problems, making the problem even worse.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any concerns about your child's development.

  • Prevention
    • Recognizing the problem early is important. Treatment may begin as early as kindergarten or elementary school.

  • References
    • Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental function and dysfunction in the school-aged child. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 32.

      Nass R, Sidhu R, Ross G. Autism and other developmental disabilities. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SK, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 90.