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Much research is being done on dyslexia on an ongoing basis. Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to learn to read, spell, or understand the meaning of what they read. There is also research to suggest that some dyslexics have similar difficulties processing numbers instead of, or in addition to, words and letters.

Let’s take a look at how dyslexia or dyscalculia numbers (as it’s also known) affect someone. The first indication of numerical dyslexia may be that a younger student has difficulty identifying numbers. As with a dyslexic word, a child will inadvertently mix up the numbers 1 through 20, for example. They can also memorize that 3 + 2 = 5, but they do not understand why this is so. Another symptom that may be present is not being able to recognize that 3 or 4 objects are present without counting them as most people can. Short-term memory can also play a role in numerical dyslexia. Since the dyslexic cannot remember things in the short term, they may have trouble memorizing things like multiplication tables. Sequencing is also key to learning numbers and math, this is another known difficulty in some dyslexic students.

Numerical dyslexia is real and it means that the brain does not process numbers correctly. This may be due to heredity, trauma, a combination of both, or some other reason that we have yet to understand. Some people seem to be predisposed to developing dyslexia.

As mentioned above, it has become clear through recent studies of dyslexic children that many of them have problems with sequencing. Sequencing disorder over time is known as numerical dyslexia. It is not something that can be cured, but it can be corrected if you pay close attention when doing something with repetition.

As an example of a technique to help the student with dyscalculia, a parent would have their child work on the sequencing helping him when it was time to make dinner. First, she would take the spaghetti out of the box ten at a time and ask her son to count them as they went in the pan. At first, he could only come up with three noodles without getting frustrated. However, with repetition he was able to count to ten, then 20, then 50. It shows that with repetition, even people affected by number dyslexia can learn the correct sequence of numbers.

Similarly, another family would have their daughter count the street signs when they were driving. At first she only counted a few signs without error, but as time went on she began to remember the sequence 1, 2, 3, etc. It became easier for her to correctly count the street signs without errors. That particular family gave up the “numbers game,” as they called it, when it counted 220 posters on a family vacation. In his opinion, she had won the game.

Unfortunately, dyslexia is not a game. Having number dyslexia can be very disorienting and embarrassing. Children are supposed to be able to count from 1 to 20 before starting kindergarten and people with numerical dyslexia have a hard time counting from 1 to 5 if they haven’t been trained. There is no specific advice on how long repetition work takes before it begins to take hold, but it is clear that the brain of a dyslexic can be trained with a caring and patient teacher. Just because your child has dyslexia, don’t give up. This disorder has been likened to color blindness. It is not an indication of intelligence, just a difficulty learning to count or do math.

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