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Decoding discalculia

Discalculia, a disorder that renders people incapable of understanding maths, is more common among kids than dyslexia.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 10, 2008 12:08 IST
PTI

"Number blindness", a disorder that renders people incapable of understanding mathematics, is more common among kids than "word blindness" or dyslexia, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at University College, London have based their conclusion on the study of 1,500 school students in Cuba using a simple screening test.

The study found that between three and six per cent of children suffer from dyscalculia, the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, compared to between 2.5 and 4.3 per cent of kids who suffer from its linguistic counterpart.

According to the study's lead author Prof. Brian Butterworth, the disability had nothing to do with how a child was taught, but was the result of children lacking a proper "sense of numbers", which hinders them in maths lessons.

"Increasingly, the evidence shows that dyscalculia is just as common as dyslexia and yet it is not recognised nearly as widely by teachers, parents, schools, local authorities or central government.

"Individuals may be unaware they have this condition. If they discover that they do, there are no dyscalculia charities to assist them as there are for dyslexia," Professor Butterworth was quoted by 'The Independent' as saying.

Prof Butterworth said it was important to identify the problem early in life so children can be reassured about and given extra lessons that may help.

"Schoolchildren are made very unhappy by it and teachers often feel they are failing these children because they do not know how to help them. It can be debilitating for people who are affected.

"Maths and calculations are essential in everyday life and low numeracy can be a real handicap in the workplace," he was quoted as saying.