Friday, February 26, 2016

Boston Dyscalculia Help @ Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics

VISITOR: Where can I find help for dyscalculia in Boston?

Contact Mahesh Sharma at the Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics.
  Website: www,                        Math Language Blog:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

17-yr-old Dyscalculic Transition Plan

VISITOR: I am 17 and I think I have dyscalculia. What should I do?

DYSCALCULIA.ORGAt 17, you're at a critical juncture. You need specific intervention to acquire numeracy competence, and  need a plan to pass college algebra. Your high school transition plan should include obtaining transferrable college algebra credits. These should be transferrable to the college you plan to attend. 
See this information: 
Have a special educator work with you on the last 2 links above for 30 minutes a day. (Think Tier 2 RtI intervention / MTSS). 
Algebra instruction should include these tools: 
You'll have to learn to color code everything, to group math elements, and to translate math symbols into words and back into symbols- Words to symbols decoding and encoding. Math must be taught as a foreign language.  

9-year-old finger counter

VISITOR:Thank you for the links & information. Son is home schooled now for 2 years. He has not been tested nor diagnosed. I have just really been finding out about this & honestly think this is what's going on. We've are on our 4th math curriculum. 
He can count & recognize many things. He writes some numbers backwards, transverses numbers like 61 for 16. He can be given addition problems like 2+5 & then 5+2 but not recognize they're related. He is a very big finger counter. He's been using Reflex Math & when given a problem like 3+4 he will say out loud "123....4567!" That's how he's figuring out the answers. He can't seem to remember basic math facts. He forgets easily. He is an excellent reader. His handwriting isn't very neat but is improving. 

Do a lot of dice work. Use the apps from the FIX page below. Reward him for recognizing the dice patterns. Teach him to associate number with the patterns in the image attached. Teach him to quickly combine patterns of five for addition and subtraction without using fingers. Use dot patterns. Once he is good at this, use coins to move into counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s (nickels & $5 bills), 10s (dimes & $10 bills), 11s (10+1), 12s (10+2),....15s (dime+nickel, & $10 bill +$5 bill), ...20s (2 dimes, & $20 bills).. 50s (50-cent pieces or 2 quarters, & $50 bills)...$100s ($100 bills)...1000s ($1000 bills)...millions! ....keep on counting! You're doing multiplication! 

Is he getting help in the Tier 2 Response to Intervention or MTSS program at school? 
First message: He should be getting 30 minutes of targeted math help per day, using methods like those listed here:
Can he count? Can he recognize dice or domino patterns? Any other learning problems?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

4th grader disqualified from special ed help

VISITORMy 9-year-old daughter, in 4th grade, has these dyscalculia symptoms, but school won't classify her as learning disabled because she left questions on money and time blank on the test, so they said that even though she scored 2 years behind in math, she could have scored higher if she answered those questions! She skipped them because she didn't know how to do them.   
She is struggling with math and has always struggled with math.
After many stressful times and trying to deal with a teacher that tells me she needs to try harder, I asked for some testing to be done. They did and afterwards I found out that it was just a placement test and not a test specifically for learning disabilities.
I had a meeting with the principle, counselor, and her teacher. I was told that if she tested two grades below her grade then she'd qualify for services. She tested two grades below her 4th grade level but they said she didn't answer a few of the problems. The ones that deal with money and time. She said she didn't know how to do them and left them blank. And because she didn't put an answer they said that she COULD have gotten a higher score and therefore wouldn't be two grades behind. So they said they couldn't give her services or accommodations. 
After trying to help her and surfing the web I found out about Dyscalculia. And it fits my daughter. Not only her, it fits me too. I feel so stupid because I can't help her like another parent could. I made it through school like a illiterate person fools everyone into thinking they can read. I don't want that for my daughter. 
I have written a formal letter requesting testing by the special education teacher. I haven't given it to the principle yet. But I know they'll try to get out of it. They'll intimidate me like before and say that it's too late in the year.
If someone out there has any suggestions, or help that they can provide, I'd very much appreciate it. Thank you.  
Her symptoms:  (a) Difficulty with time, directions, recalling schedules, sequences of events. Difficulty keeping track of time. Frequently  late. , (b) Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name-face association. Substitute names beginning with same letter. , (c) Inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Bad at financial planning and money management. Too slow at mental math to figure totals, change due, tip, tax., (d) When writing, reading and recalling numbers, these mistakes may occur:  number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals. , (e) Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic math facts (+-x/). , (f) Poor memory (retention & retrieval) of math concepts- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but then fails tests. , (g) Unable to imagine or "picture" mechanical processes. Poor ability to "visualize or picture" the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc. , (h) Poor memory for the "layout" of things. Gets lost or disoriented easily. May have a poor sense of direction, may lose things often, and seem absent minded., (i) Difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education. Difficulty sight-reading music, learning fingering to play an instrument., (j) Difficulty with motor sequencing, noticeable in athletic performance, difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions like in aerobic, dance, and exercise classes. Difficulty with dance step sequences, muscle memory, sports moves., (k) Difficulty remembering how to keep score in games, like bowling, cards, etc. Often loses track of whose turn it is. Limited strategic planning ability for games like chess., (l) Experiences anxiety during math tasks.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Failing College Algebra, 3.9 GPA Threatened

VISITOR: I have all of the dyscalculia symptoms and am failing college algebra but have a 3.9 GPA overall. If I can't pass this class, I can't finish college. Please help! 

Are you able to drop this math class before it ruins your GPA, or at least get an Incomplete?
Is this a remedial math class or a college-level class?
What is your major?

Immediately go the Disability Services Office and tell them you have a math learning disability (dyscalculia) and your MATH performance will devastate your excellent GPA. They will require official documentation of LD, but ask if they have an Educational Psychology Department on campus where you can go for a diagnosis. 

If they do not, check with your health insurance and see if outpatient psychological services are covered. Then make an appointment for a neuropsychological assessment for math learning disorder. 

We can test you also, if all else fails, see here:

You will need to pursue an alternative path to satisfy your math degree requirements. See here: 

Read about college and dyscalculia:

College Algebra Stumbling Blocks

VISITOR: Thank you for your prompt reply. I attend school at  University online and I am in my sophomore year. Thus far I have completed 40 credit hours. My present class is Math 221 (Introduction to Algebra) and the next class is Math 222 (Intermediate Algebra). I am pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Business leadership with deals mainly with psychology, communication, conflict resolution and motivation. These math classes are part of my general education competencies. 

My plan is to start my own business, and algebra will not even be necessary because my work will involve observance, communication, and creative strategies, which I do very well. However, it is a college requirement; and as I told my advisor, I fear this may be the end of my college pursuit. 
I wrote my advisor another note today, because on my last one he advised me to "work harder" or spend more time (as if that will help). I know that these will not help as this has been a problem since my high school days. Anything that involves memorizing steps or sequences is lost quickly because I have a terrible short-term memory at best, and if I do not understand what I am writing, then even if I write it, I am not going to retain it. How can one retain what they do not comprehend? I wish they understood.

In my email today I told him about dyscalculia and asked if he had heard of it. I will be able to determine the next step upon hearing from him. I am however going to try to drop this class or get an incomplete as you suggested. 


Are Math 221 and Math 222 the college level classes, or are they remedial (not counted toward your degree)? The course numbers look college-level, but the titles do not. 

Please explore the links I sent before so that you know your rights. 

Ask your advisor to refer you to the university's ed psych dept to get tested for a math learning disorder. You must take action immediately.  

Go to and sign up for a free trial to see if you can benefit. If it works for you, you can ask for an incomplete in Math 221, and an academic adjustment letting you cover the course content in the ALEKS self-paced computer system. The prof will get a login to monitor your progress and set topics, and you'll get an agreement up front that he will use your ALEKS percentage to record your grade for the course. Many universities use ALEKS, so it is not a foreign idea. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Autism and Private School

My son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder label. He went through public school for 8 years and I have been very happy with their services. He had a parapro for the past 9 years.
He is high functioning and has been admitted to a private parochial High School as a Freshmen. They will modify his curriculum and he will receive a Certificate of Completion upon graduation.
My main concern is that private school does not have a lot of "Life-Skill" programs and I will have to finance his para-pro.  I wanted to find out if I could duel enroll him in Public School to attend shop classes or a Culinary Arts class. 
Lastly, I know public schools provide Auxillary Services to the high school like OT/Speech. Could they provide an auxiliary para-pro while attending private school since it is written into his IEP and private school  would be his least restrictive environment? 
You need to be working with a transition specialist on transition to high school and vocational prep. 
See information on autism and services: 
Read about the provision of services in private school. ( They can bus him from private to public vocational classes and auxiliary services, but that has to be in the IEP or ISP created with the district.) They will not provide a parapro in the private setting and can't use the private school staff to deliver services.
You also want to ask about speech services and an assistive technology plan. 
In high school,  he may get a counselor from State Rehabilitation Services, to work on his vocational training. Also see the link to info on transition planning. 
Once you read the info at the link above,  you'll be clear about your rights.  You don't want to cut the public schools out entirely. 
I suggest that you objectively visit and interview staff to compare both schools on services, curriculum, supports, culture and climate, and enrichment opportunities. Then place him where he'll get the greatest benefit. 
If he is high functioning, why the certificate of completion and not a diploma? Could he be employing assistive technology to better access the curriculum and communicate more effectively? A CoC eliminates college options. 
It is tough, but parents are the only ones who won't settle for less for their children.  Schools will always choose the practical and the convenient.  Your job is to see what he needs and to make it happen.  You're the orchestra conductor.

Autism and Dyscalculia

I have a 13 year old wwith autism who was placed into a math class that is inappropriate - 2-3 years ahead of his ability.  His math teacher for the last two years when asked what level he is on would reply with, "it's hard to say."  This year, due to the fact he is in this inappropriate class, I have been taking him to the store trying to get him to add and round simple numbers such as 8+2.  I am going into an ARD I requested and want to have more information on dyscalculia so I can request that he be evaluated. 
Our autism info:  
 All you have to do is email his school principal requesting that he be tested for dyscalculia and include the checklist symptoms. (They will protest, saying he already has a classification, but tell them that we need to know if he has it to know how to treat it.) 
Here is the law in Texas:
Apps that you can employ today to help him: 
See our Best Tools pages, too, especially Money.
He should have an assistive technology plan, also see,

Dyscalculia and Calculus

VISITORI have recently been diagnosed with dyscalculia by the ADA office at my university.  Unfortunately I have found your website on this subject too late.  I decided to try to re-take an algebra class that has already caused havoc with my GPA. I had attempted to take calculus over the summer once and carried a B up until the final. Unfortunately that final also landed me a failing mark.   

Because calculus is the real math requirement I need,  I thought I would ask if you knew anywhere that offered Online calculus in an acceptable format?  My current university moves at an incredible pace in math and they’ve only allowed me an extra 15 minutes on exams.     

Any response is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. 

DYSCALCULIA.ORG:  Where do you attend school? Don't waste any more time and money taking remedial or non-degree courses at your school. Use the free and low cost online alternatives listed here to take the necessary foundational courses and even the Calculus needed for your degree.  
Maybe ask Alex how he did it:

Here are some Calculus tools and course offerings: 
Online Calc course 3-9 months: ( You still need to get accommodations for proctored exams. You can talk to the instructor about your disability and get any help that you need.)

Coursera:  Calculus courses:  

Straighter Line:  Calculus courses:  

Alternatives for College Algebra

VISITORI am currently seeking an associates degree at the local community college here in Dayton, Ohio. A few years ago after failing a few math classes, I was tested and diagnosed with dyscalculia. Since then I have been allowed many concessions such as taking the test in the testing center, extra time, tutors and the like. This however has not worked well and caused me to repeat one math class as many as 4 times in order to move on. 
I managed to pass with a C in Intermediate algebra last semester after three other attempts. Due to this constant repeating of math, my  GPA has suffered, and my college career has been drawn out so far that I  have exhausted all financial aid. 
During the terms when I was not taking math classes,  I earned excellent marks including being on the dean's list many times with most being a 4.0. 
I have had no help in the disability office, various deans, academic advisors, and other school officials. Not one person I talked to seems to understand dyscalculia or what it means. 
I am studying criminal justice IT (cyber forensics). I  earned a Cisco network engineering certificate along with other accolades along the way. It pains me to see the frustration, and the emotional toll it takes. 
I am just not sure what to do next.  I am hopeful that your organization might be able to point me in the right direction. I have invested so much time and effort into this endeavor and I do not want it to be all for naught. I only have two math classes left and like I said, Intermediate Algebra took 3 semesters to pass. Statistics and finite math remain and I will graduate with an associates degree.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. 
DYSCALCULIA.ORG(1) First, immediately withdraw from any enrolled math classes at Dayton.

(2) Second, resolve not to take any more math classes at Dayton.

(3) Plot your exact path to Associates Degree completion.
  (i.e. Finite Math and Statistics and the prerequisite skills for each)

(4) Plot alternative pathways to satisfy these requirements using 
    Coursera, Straighterline, ALEKS, and so on. 

(5) Contact Ohio Rehabilitation Services and get help with passing the degree requirements with dyscalculia. They should pay for you to complete your schooling, along with any supports that you need to do so.

(6) Meet with Disability Services at Dayton and craft a transfer plan and degree requirement satisfaction plan before starting courses in the alternative pathways above.

(7) IF Dayton does not agree to the above plans, FILE A CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION COMPLAINT. 

(8) Amy has severe dyscalculia and needs a math course waiver and substitution, but at the associates level, this is difficult to obtain because CCs have articulation transfer agreements with universities and the state, which they cannot change. It is easier to get these in a university, although it is still difficult.

She will at least need MAJOR academic adjustments and accommodations in order to fulfill the math requirements. 

Read up on her rights under our Dyscalculia and College page: 

I can try to advocate for her with the staff at Dayton. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Coping with Dyscalculia

VISITOR: How can I live with dyscalculia? 

You will want to keep a multiplication/times table handy and be practiced in using it, complete with a card to isolate only one fact at a time. You will need to understand what multiplication means (repeated addition), and its relationship to division (repeated subtraction).

But at the most fundamental level, you need to understand the base-ten system used in the USA. You need to know that we have only 10 digits (0-9) that are combined to make all of the numbers, just like we have only 24 letters that are combined to make all of our words.

Just like with letters, digit order matters! As pit is different than tip, 124 is different than 421. You have to be able to explain WHY this is so! Then you will get that it is no shame to triple check that you have the digits in the right order, because it makes a world of difference! It is certainly worth the time and trouble to investigate! 

And once you know that you are plenty smart, but that your brain is prone to these types of mistakes, you will be INVESTED in using strategies to eliminate these mistakes. (Opposite of hating math, avoiding it, and expressing hostility toward it.) 

You can liken it to a man who is color blind. No amount of cursing, trying, willing, or determining, will make him see colors accurately! After getting laughed at for dressing funny or other embarrassments, he'll make sure he has a friend help him label his clothes by color so he can wash and organize them, and dress appropriately! Maybe he'll ask his friend to write on the labels: blu, blk, red, gre, org, brn... No shame there! 

Understand that the math processing center of your brain has a defect that we can't operate on to correct; but we do know that we can use the areas of our brain that work very well, to do some of the work that the damaged area should do. This is a relief because it means that you no longer are expected to try harder, or work longer, to get math! 


You can't learn math the normal way-- just like a dyslexic person, or a blind person, or deaf person, or an autistic person cannot benefit from typical classroom instruction! 

So, what! 
Because their disabilities are visible, everyone knows that they must use different methods to acquire information, communicate, and navigate life. 

Learning disabilities are just as real, and they also require totally DIFFERENT METHODS.

For more on these methods, see

Dyscalculia Not Outgrown but Learn Coping Skills

VISITOR: Will my child outgrow dyscalculia?  

TAKE CONTROL.  You will never outgrow dyscalculia, but you can conquer it by learning to take control of your own thinking, learning and responses. 

For instance, you have dyscalculia, and may not remember accurately the exit to take, so you should write it  (plus all important roads and numbers) in black Sharpie on an index card, and tape this to your dashboard for quick reference (as a backup to your phone or GPS), because exit 118 and 181 are a great deal apart! 

You get the idea! Just knowing that you're prone to make these errors, allows you to control for them.  Now you can avoid the tears and frustration of getting lost, being late, and missing important meetings.

When you didn't understand that you had a problem, you just lived in this perpetual state of confusion and with the frustration and anger that resulted.

Here's another example, instead of asking for a phone number, or for someone to repeat instructions involving directions or numbers, keep a pen and small notebook in your pocket and quickly pull it out and say, "Would you mind writing that down for me? Thanks!" 

Now you can hand your phone to someone and ask them to call themselves, or enter their contact info or write a note. The more you use these tactics, the more comfortable you are, and the more efficient and successful you become by employing strategies that increase your personal effectiveness. 

You will learn to do this for figuring discounts, sales tax and tips, and all of the other daily math tasks that can make you feel really bad because (unless you have a strategy) your brain is too slow to calculate on the spot. 

Here's another example:  You can't remember numbers, not even how much you spent on lunch yesterday, but if you have transaction text message alerts and daily balance alerts and calendar notifications and time reminders set up, you will always know what time it is and what's coming up, and it is easy to look up all the numbers in your life. 

These are all examples of strategies that can make your disability invisible to others and manageable for you. 

Dyscalculia: Where do I start?

VISITOR: My child has dyscalculia. Where do I start?  

ASSESS. Get an informal assessment of your dyscalculia symptoms. 
Analyze math processing, math errors, and math learning history. 
Review teaching tools and strategies that will help manage the problem. 

LEARN.  Special teaching can show you how to think mathematically, using parts of your brain that work exceptionally well (like spoken and written language). We must bypass the defective math processing area.

LIBRARY.  Another great angle, is to visit your local library and look in the math section. You'll find hundreds of books that explain all of the essential math concepts visually. Read these, as if reading to a younger child. Understand the ideas well enough to teach them to a young child, (you can even pretend to teach the dog). Illustrate and demonstrate the concepts as you teach them. 


Does Dyscalculia Preclude College?

VISITOR I can't thank you enough for writing me back! I must have ten calls into area professionals and am getting no where. I'm working to get her formally tested and trying to find a tutor who is a good fit for her. Most people haven't even heard of Dyscalculia. The links you sent are fantastic and I thank you. 
I've ordered the book, Why is Math So Hard along with several others to educate myself. One question that still lingers for me and my husband is, will this be something that she will a developmental issue or is this a physical condition? For example, if I give her the problem, 586 x 28 she can't do it. 
We've been stuck on multiplying numbers like this for two years. Fractions are a nightmare. When you sit down with her and walk through it, sometimes she will follow you but if her life depended on it she can't solve it herself. I've made her a notebook with laminated pages of instructions as to how to solve different problems, but she will never be allowed to take that with her to take SATs. So do we give up, or do we keep plugging along hoping at some point something will click? 
In her other subjects, the online school gives her timed tests. She will work herself into being physically sick with anxiety. Some of this I feel like I could curb if I had the formal diagnosis and could speak to her teachers about it. When I have her tested at the end of the year to meet the home schooling requirements for Virginia, I don't time her and I allow her to use a calculator. 
But eventually, she will want to go to college and she'll have to deal with people that do not understand. That's what is so heart breaking. 
Again, I thank you so much for the links! Our local Barnes and Noble doesn't carry anything on Dyscalculia and out of an entire section on teaching, I found only one book on teaching math...and it didn't include any special needs. Everything else is geared to reading. Thank you for your organization and your wealth of knowledge!  


Dr. Daniel Berch is a dyscalculia expert at the University of Virginia. I would contact him for advice on a local therapist. Maybe he can send one of his grad students to work with her. Here is Dr. Berch's contact info:
He is associated with CogniFit dyscalculia program, but I don't know how effective it is, as I have never experienced it.

You will need a formal diagnosis for accommodations on standardized tests. You can ask Dr. Berch about dyscalculia testing. Insurance should cover it. Also ask if she can join a dyscalculia study at UV. She can learn to think mathematically with special training that focuses on the language of math and logical visual patterns. See how it is done on these pages: Our Lessons, Money, and Fix.