Thursday, May 5, 2016

Math Difficulties and ADHD

VISITOR:  I Am someone with math difficulties. I am also an adult who was late diagnosed ADHD. Currently, I am being treated for my ADHD with medication and cbt. Math & numbers have always been a 'dread' to me. My dad used to conclude that 'math just wasn't my strong suit.' I agreed but have never understood why until hearing about math LD. To this day, if it involves numbers, I feel a familiar 'heaviness' come over me. I just check out. I struggled terribly with math all through school but managed to get through (but not without failing and having to retake some classes). I did play a musical instrument but preferred to play by ear because reading music didn't make sense. I don't do well with reading and following directions. It's often too much to take in & takes to long to process and so I prefer to 'wing it'. If I have to use a ruler to measure anything, I opt to 'eyeball' it or I struggle through the task or I ask my husband to do it. Generally speaking, if something involves numbers (finances, measuring, helping my daughter with math, etc)...I run the other way. It has become a way of life for me now and I am interested in knowing more in relation to my ADHD. 
DYSCALCULIA.ORG: Consider filling out the Learning Disabilities Checklist, because you also have difficulty reading.  Then see our pages on Learning Disabilities.  Learning Disabilities can look like ADHD, because if you can't follow along or keep up or comprehend, you can't engage, and your attention naturally goes elsewhere.  Your off-task behavior, if it is active, will be called "hyperactivity" or inappropriate activity.  All of this inattention and off-task activity is a natural result of failure to engage with the task at hand. The task may involve listening, reading, visual-spatial reasoning, math, and so on.  It is like someone speaking to you in a foreign language. You are motivated to and do attempt to understand, but eventually cannot engage and attend for very long.  The mind seeks out satisfying experiences. When we cannot derive pleasure or satisfaction from a situation, we tend to move on. In summary, if you could read well, you would read. If you could think and work mathematically, you would not avoid doing it. The trick is to figure out how to acquire skills that have historically been difficult to acquire; and then once you get the skills, to exercise them regularly, so you don't lose them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dyscalculia Handbook - 7th grade project

VISITOR:  We need help with our 7th grade class project. We are making a dyscalculia handbook. "What are the strengths, challenges, and differences in the people who have Dyscalculia?"

DYSCALCULIA.ORG

STRENGTHS: 

(1) Those with dyscalculia usually spoke early and very well as young children and continue to speak well. 
(2) Those with dyscalculia usually write very well, and like to express their ideas through writing. 
(3) Those with dyscalculia usually learned to read early and to read well. They like to read for pleasure and to learn. 
(4) Those with dyscalculia are usually exceptional students in all subjects except math. 

WEAKNESSES: 
See the Dyscalculia Checklist for a list of symptoms.

People with dyscalculia make errors that they are NOT even aware of. They may copy numbers wrong. They may read numbers wrong. They may say numbers other than the numbers they intend to say. They may see one number but think about another number.  They occasionally forget what they are doing in the middle of working a math problem.  They occasionally lose track when counting things. They get confused by all of the different directions you have to go in when doing arithmetic.  They have a hard time following physical sequences. They have a hard time remembering sequences, directions, maps, schedules, and times. It may be hard to read an analog (face) clock reliably.  It is hard to keep track of time and they have a poor sense of how much time is required for something and how much time has gone by.  They have a hard time handling money because they lose track when counting, can't do addition and subtraction in their heads, and can't think about numbers when under pressure.  They have visual-spatial difficulties that make certain tasks hard. They may avoid sports that require a lot of coordination and processing of rapidly changing stimuli, like team sports. Sports that don't require so much complex and rapid visual processing would be track, cross country, and swimming. They cannot process visual-spatial information that occurs quickly. When watching sporting events, they may ask frequently, "What just happened?" 
They don't necessarily learn better by touching things because touch is a weaker pathway.  They may have a hard time executing tasks without looking, like plugging something in without looking. They have a hard time visually comparing things and seeing the differences between similar objects. They think more slowly and carefully about visual stimuli. They misremember numbers frequently, whether it is easy addition and multiplication facts, or dates or times, and even birthdays of special people.  They are embarrassed by these mistakes and try to avoid making them in public. Since it is socially acceptable to be smart but bad at math, they may admit, "I'm very smart, but I can't do math. That's okay. I can use a calculator." 



DIFFERENCES:
Those with dyscalculia can fool their teachers and friends by developing clever ways to avoid math and calculating. They want a reputation for being smart, and do not want to admit that math makes them feel stupid.  All their lives they have been told to be more careful and to pay attention to detail more and to study and try harder in math.  They believe that they can overcome their math difficulties by trying harder and studying longer, but these usual tactics do not produce the expected results. This makes them frustrated and angry. After awhile, they may become overwhelmed by failure and frustration, and may cry when faced with math tasks. They may avoid math because it makes them feel inadequate and distressed. When they cannot avoid it, they will feel anxious and stressed, which will make them even less able to think mathematically.  They will describe this as: a "mental block," or "drawing a blank," or "blacking out," or "it's like I've never seen this stuff before in my life!"  Teachers may call this "math anxiety," but it is important to know that the "math anxiety," does not come first. Math anxiety is NOT the cause of math difficulties. Math anxiety RESULTS from the brain's inability to process quantitative and visual-spatial information reliably and effectively.  

Those with dyscalculia need tricks and tools for managing dyscalculia. 
See these links: Manage It  | Conquer It  |  Remediation | Accessing Math  |  Appreciating Math  | Best Math Tools