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What is Dyscalculia in Autism - Key Insights

Published on 3rd July 2024

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Introduction


Is your child struggling with recognizing or counting numbers, math symbols? Is your child unable to recognize and use number lines? If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it could be an  indication that your child is suffering from Dyscalculia, a learning disability  that impairs one's ability to comprehend number-based information and math. However, there is no need to panic as Dyscalculia is not only treatable but early diagnosis can transform your child’s perspective towards numbers and mathematics. This article will help you in  understanding the connection of Autism with Dyscalculia and identifying its symptoms at an early stage. 


Decoding the Autism-Dyscalculia Connection


It must be noted that autism and dyscalculia are overlapping and co-occurring neurodevelopmental conditions. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder face trouble in executive functions, processing speed, working memory, and attention, which can contribute to difficulties in mathematical reasoning and computation—hallmarks of dyscalculia.


What causes Dyscalculia?


In most cases, there is no consensus among medical experts regarding what causes Dyscalculia in children. While some associate it with genetic factors, others believe that it results from the lack of concrete early mathematical training. What is certain about dyscalculic children is that they are more likely to exhibit certain specific abnormalities in particular areas of their brain. It has been observed that in some cases Dyscalculia is accompanied with other developmental delays and neurological conditions such as Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Dyslexia, dysgraphia or non-verbal learning disorders, Sensory processing disorders, Autism spectrum disorder. Moreover, children who have anxiety or panic disorders are more vulnerable to Dyscalculia.


Since both Dyslexia and dyscalculia are learning disorders with similar symptoms, it is very common to confuse one disorder with another. Although they can co-exist in some cases, there are vital differences between the two. While Dyscalculia impacts a person’s ability to engage in numbers and mathematical operations, Dyslexia impacts a person’s ability to read and write.


Symptoms and Diagnosis of Dyscalculia


Usually, Dyscalculia symptoms are noticed when kids start school, around age 6. Among the symptoms, these kids have issues with counting numbers with their fingers, recognizing modest amounts of objects simply by sight, doing basic mathematical operations and memorizing multiplication tables, comprehending complex symbols or word issues (e.g., > for "greater than" or < for "less than") and arranging numbers according to decimal places. These symptoms are intricately linked with psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, aggression or agitation which are triggered in situations where dealing with mathematics is necessary and inevitable.

 

Although teachers and parents are likely to be the first to notice early signs of Dyscalculia, diagnosis of Dyscalculia involves systematic testing procedures carried out by a doctor who will first inquire about a child’s health and family history in order to to rule out alternative diagnoses and ensure that there is no urgent medical issue that requires attention. Secondly, the focus will be on testing a child’s specific mathematical skills and ruling out other possible causes, such as vision or hearing problems, other brain- or mental health-related conditions, etc.


Dyslexia and Dyscalculia- Where is the Difference?

                                                                                                            

How is Dyscalculia treated?


After diagnosing the severity of Dyscalculia, a doctor will create a treatment plan to assist you in managing dyscalculia effectively. Typically, therapy consists of one-on-one instruction. The nature of the treatment plan is also dependent on factors like the underlying cause of Dyscalculia and available healthcare facilities.


Generally, a treatment plan could consist of-

 

       specialized training sessions to improve mathematical skills

      using unconventional methods to help your child recognize numbers and math symbols

      Occupational therapy to assist your child learn ways to manage psychological symptoms of Dyscalculia.

      additional training in tasks that make your child uncomfortable 


Ideal approach towards a dyscalculic child


It is important to adopt a supportive and inclusive approach towards dyscalculic children, recognizing their unique challenges with mathematics and providing the necessary support to help them thrive. Peer support and positive social interactions among dyscalculic children and their classmates. Building friendships and social connections can boost confidence and motivation, enhancing overall well-being and academic engagement.


Conclusion


It can be concluded that children with autism may be at a higher risk for experiencing mathematical difficulties associated with dyscalculia. Dyscalculia can make it difficult to perform even basic math-related jobs, such as paying bills, following baking and culinary recipes, and more, depending on the specific symptoms. Children with dyscalculia can gradually learn the skills and develop the abilities they need to adapt to this issue because their brains have not yet fully developed. Therefore, medical experts emphasize that early signs of Dyscalculia should be identified quickly and treatment should also start as soon as possible.

 

  

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