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Mathematics disorder

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

Children who have mathematics disorder have trouble with simple mathematical equations, such as counting and adding.

Mathematical disorder may appear with:

Symptoms

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

Problems the child may have include:

  • Trouble with reading, writing, and copying numbers
  • Problems counting and adding numbers, often making simple mistakes
  • Difficulty telling the difference between adding and subtracting
  • Problems understanding math symbols and word problems
  • Inability to line up numbers properly to add, subtract, or multiply
  • Inability to arrange numbers from smallest to largest, or the opposite
  • Inability to 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 remedial education. Other programs that have been successful include Project Math and computer skills.

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. Neurodevelopmental function and dysfunction in the school-aged child. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 29.

Updated: 5/14/2014

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, Phd, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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