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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, incidence, and risk factors:

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

Mathematical disorder may appear with:



Symptoms:

Early difficulties with math are noticed, as well as low scores in math classes and tests.

Some of the problems seen 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
  • Unable to line up numbers properly to add, subtract, or multiply
  • Unable to arrange numbers from smallest to largest, or the opposite
  • Unable to understand graphs


Signs 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 teaching computer skills.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Early intervention improves the chances of a better outcome.



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.



Calling your health care provider:

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 thes chool-aged child. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 29.




Review Date: 5/16/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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