Dyscalculia is one of the most under-researched learning difficulties in the world. You’ve probably heard of it before, though it receives less attention than things like dyslexia. Often, this leads to many misconceptions about the condition and what it actually means. So, we’ve created this guide to dyscalculia that will open your eyes to some truths on this topic.
What is dyscalculia?
Dyscalculia is commonly misdiagnosed or seen as something entirely different from what it is. The most frequent misdiagnosis is that children with dyscalculia just have maths anxiety. Or, it’s suggested that a child just doesn’t have very good maths abilities. Sometimes, they can also be diagnosed as dyslexic instead.
Dyscalculia is none of these things. In fact, it is its own learning difficulty, specific to the field of mathematics. Children suffering from this problem are likely to have problems understanding very basic arithmetic. They physically can’t get their head around the numbers, regardless of how much they excel in different subject areas. This is because dyscalculia is a developmental neurological difficulty that’s not connected to any outside factors. It’s essentially something that children are born with or develop.
Too often, children that aren’t good at maths or are too lazy to try will claim to suffer from this learning difficulty. Or, more accurately, their parents will claim it for them. People with dyscalculia are not lazy and do try really hard to understand arithmetic. It’s just that their brain doesn’t let them make sense of things.
How common is it?
Dyscalculia is more apparent than most people think. Recent research suggests that around 5% of the population suffers from it. Of course, the exact stats are not known as it is too frequently diagnosed as something else.
Nevertheless, it’s widely regarded that dyscalculia is as common as dyslexia. Likewise, children suffering from dyslexia are potentially more likely to also have dyscalculia – or another learning difficulty. But, both conditions can exist on their own – many children have dyscalculia with no other learning difficulties.
How do you know if a child suffers from dyscalculia?
The most obvious sign that a child has dyscalculia is if they are significantly worse at maths than every other subject. They have no issues learning everything else, but their maths performance is way lower than it should be.
Naturally, you can have a child assessed if you feel this is the case. Some other things to look for include:
- Children who write numbers down in the wrong order all the time
- Children who don’t remember numbers very well
- Children that struggle to dial phone numbers correctly, even when the number is in front of them
- Children that don’t understand or remember the common signs (like + or -)
Generally, any signs that a child struggles with basic maths problems is something to be wary of. Again, particularly if they’re attaining good grades in all other subject areas – or if they’re way behind the rest of their class. Usually, children with dyscalculia will also have a fear of maths and can stare at a problem for an entire lesson without knowing where to start.
The sooner you assess a child, the easier it is to find them the help they need. This can ensure they don’t suffer setbacks throughout their education.
How do you assess a child?
A dyscalculia assessment can only be done by certain educational professionals. This will usually be either an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Teachers. If you suspect a child is suffering from this learning difficulty, you should contact one of these professionals straight away. Most schools will have at least one on their payroll, or they will have contacts to help you find one.
What can you do to help children with dyscalculia?
When a child is diagnosed, the best course of action is to draw up a structured plan to follow. This is designed around teaching them the basics and helping them re-learn and memorise things more effectively. Obviously, they will need to be on a different learning schedule to the rest of their class. Otherwise, they will constantly be behind and can never catch-up.
It’s also suggested that using objects and other learning devices are effective here. Children learn better when they can physically touch and see the items in question, rather than just listening to a teacher talk about maths problems.
As a parent or teacher, you must be aware of things like dyscalculia. Don’t listen to any of the myths or rumours about this learning difficulty. Hopefully, this guide has shown the truth about dyscalculia and what you can do to help children with it.
Sarah brings an amazing energy
"Sarah brings an amazing energy to each aspect of her teaching, she managed to captivate the attention of my five year old daughter and I could see real progress with her reading very quickly. I put this down to a combination of the right personality and enthusiasm for the job coupled with an admirable skill set and qualifications. My daughter is now making much better progress at her school and has improved confidence too. Thoroughly impressed!"
I was so taken back that someone that I didn't know took time out of her busy day
"Sarah Louise contacted me after I put a post on a forum she rang me at home. I was given some really great advice for my son who has Hypermobility and possible Dyspraxia. I was so taken back that someone that I didn't know took time out of her busy day to talk to me I was so pleased that she did though. Thank you very much"
She had many books to recommend
"After my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia this year, my world was thrown into a spin. I had been thrown into a world, I know nothing about and felt hopeless to help my daughter. After I had spoken to Sarah, she recommended that we had a meeting. She was extremely informative, giving me an insight into how dyslexic children can think, their emotions and how it can effect confidence. She had many books to recommend, handy hints of how to help my daughter with homework and generally filled me with hope and a new confidence that I can really help my daughter on her journey of dyslexia. Sarah also took time out to go to my daughter's school, to sit in on lessons and then have a chat with the teacher. The teacher spoke to me afterwards and told me how helpful she had found Sarah. Many teachers have limited knowledge of dyslexia so found Sarah's advice invaluable, from the best place for a dyslexic child to sit in the class, to coloured overlays, to repeating instructions and written handouts from the lessons. Giving them an insight into how dyslexic children learn and how they can bring the best out in them. Sarah has been so supportive in all aspects to my daughters dyslexic learning - from home to school. I would highly recommend her!"
Highly recommend her
"Fully trained expert - highly recommend her."
Sarah was a great help
"After struggling to understand my son's dyslexia assessment report that another assessor did (I live in Leeds), I commented on a forum and Sarah was more than happy to help. I sent her report and she kindly offered to phone me and explained it all and gave me ideas what to look into to help him. Sarah was a great help."
She was very friendly, helpful and informative
"Had a quick phone conversation with Sarah-Louise yesterday about getting an assessment for my son's dyslexia and other educational challenges. She was very friendly, helpful and informative. She obviously knows her stuff! Many thanks Sarah-Louise."
She listened carefully to what I asked and said and offered me some great advice
"I had a lovely chat with Sarah-Louise following my son's diagnosis, she listened carefully to what I asked and said and offered me some great advice - that I'm slowly following through. A lovely lady."
She made him feel relaxed straight away
"I took my son to see Sarah-Louise in early March. He was a little bit nervous about doing the assessment, but she made him feel relaxed straight away. The report she provided was very in-depth & was received approximately 3 weeks after the assessment. It can be hard to take in all of the information provided, but Sarah-Louise was happy to go through the report over the phone & clarify any queries I had. I would recommend Sarah-Louise to anyone looking to get their child assessed."
I found her to be very approachable
"Having contacted Sarah-Louise to enquire about screening my daughter for dyslexia I found her to be very approachable, knowledgeable and extremely informative and thorough prior to even meeting my daughter. On the day of my daughter's assessment both myself and my daughter were naturally nervous and apprehensive, she put us both at ease and made the screening a stressless experience for my daughter. Which was by far the most important thing for me. I would highly recommend Sarah-Louise to anyone who needs a screening for their child."
Just wanted to give a shout out to Sarah-Louise Jeffries
"Just wanted to give a shout out to Sarah-Louise Jeffries. I'm starting on the EHCP journey with Harry and she called me yesterday. We had a lovely long chat and she was full of inspirational advice and I can see that she will be an amazing support through this process. Got Harry's assessment booked with her early June and can't wait to see the outcome. She also gave me some really good advice with regard to my daughter and so now I'm thinking about the next steps for her. Thank you Sarah-Louise ?"
Sarah was really supportive and explained everything really well
"Sarah was really supportive and explained everything really well. Trying to do the best for your child and understand is daunting and Sarah made me feel so much better. Thank you."
Sarah made me feel so much better
"Sarah was really supportive and explained everything really well. Trying to do the best for your child and understand is daunting and Sarah made me feel so much better. Thank you."
I had my two kids assessed for their dyslexia and all the process was smooth
"I had my two kids assessed for their dyslexia and all the process was smooth, I had people saying it would be stressful for my dyslexic kids to do it but it was very positive and helped them to learn more about themselves. I am very pleased with the results, the reports were long but very easy to understand, and the way all was done was excellent. I would recommend Sarah-Louise to anyone."
Sarah-Louise's detailed recommendations were extremely valuable
"Sarah-Louise produced a very complete assessment report. The assessment covered his reading, spelling and writing levels as well as his underlying ability. Sarah-Louise also assessed his phonological processing and his short-term and working memory. All the information included in the report and Sarah-Louise's detailed recommendations were extremely valuable when it was time to sit down with his teachers to re-evaluate where Charlie struggled and his provision map. With the report, we were able to make sure that he got extra help at school as well as at home."
The difference in her was pretty immediate
"My daughter, 9, was struggling at school and her confidence was rock bottom. Having been assessed she was diagnosed with dyslexia in February. Her grades at school were average so the school had not suspected anything, but my daughter's confidence was suffering as she struggled silently in lessons. By some chance I spoke to a friend about it and she forwarded me Sarah-Louise's number. We met her and my daughter started having tuition from her a couple of months ago. The difference in her was pretty immediate - her confidence in herself is slowly improving as she finally starts to believe in herself. Sarah has started to show her that she is clever and will be able to do things and succeed at school. Her friendly and open personality immediately put my daughter at ease and my daughter looks forward to her tutoring and even asks if she can go more! She feels she can be open with Sarah as she knows she is not being judged and can relax and be herself. For my daughter and, subsequently, the family, Sarah has thrown us a life line to learning and an inside into the world of a dyslexic child and we look forward to the educational journey ahead."
This exceeded our expectations
"Sarah responded to enquiry very quickly and was able to support us with our son, providing the tuition that he needed and advising on specific personal details relevant to his particular need. This exceeded our expectations, we had initially been looking for tutoring but she was able to elaborate on why our son was having difficulty with his subjects thus allowing us to access additional resources that we hadnâ€™t considered. We are very grateful for the support and care that enabled us to access better resources and therefore provide better for our son, thank you Sarah, we are very grateful."
My daughter's confidence has grown from strength to strength
"We had employed a private speech and language therapist for our daughter who is autistic as well as coping with oral dyspraxia. On her retirement, we faced a dilemma. We knew the additional support was helping but struggled to find a suitable replacement. Whilst "surfing" the grayshott.com we saw Sarah's advertisement. Whilst highly qualified, the rapport between my daughter and prospective specialist teacher was highly important to me. After agreeing a home visit and seeing the special bond created by Sarah with my daughter I didn't hesitate in employing her. My daughter's confidence has grown from strength to strength. The communication with all parties including the school is second to none. After each session my daughter relishes in showing and telling me the topic covered and her achievements. To hear her say the words and sign the lesson back has made me so proud. Something I was told I may not ever see. As a parent you want nothing more than to set your children up for life and Sarah is helping our daughter to achieve the best independence we could ever hope for."
His recent school report was testament to the real progress he has made
"Sarah helps my 14 year old son with English and she has really 'filled the gaps' in his knowledge. His recent school report was testament to the real progress he has made. I was impressed by the thorough way in which Sarah initially identified the areas in which he needed more help. After his first session my son comments that he 'couldn't believe' that a whole hour had passed! I thoroughly recommend Sarah, her enthusiasm definitely rubs off on her pupils."
Sarah-Louise is very friendly, reliable and approachable
"Sarah-Louise is very friendly, reliable and approachable. She has been tutoring my children since May, She is making learning fun and interesting for them and is committed to helping them to improve their literacy and their understanding of maths."
I can hear them giggling in the kitchen
"After looking for some time for a suitable tutor for my rugby and football mad 9 year old, we eventually found Sarah, also rugby mad! We have gone from having a son who screamed and shouted 2 days before seeing his previous tutor to 'I can't wait to see Sarah'. I can hear them giggling in the kitchen and have often wondered if he is actually learning anything. However, the teachers at school are really impressed with his progression, so what ever she is doing is working. Being dyslexic, he was really struggling in the classroom with his reading and especially his writing. He needed the help desperately and I feel privileged that Sarah is able to work with him. She is fun, inventive and if something doesn't work, she works with Josh to find a solution."
Sarah- Louise initially completed a very thorough assessment
"When we met Sarah-Louise Jeffries our now 14yr old son had just been diagnosed with dyslexia and a number of other conditions that impacted on his ability to read, write, spell and understand. Since moving up to senior school he had gone from a happy confident, verbally, articulate child with a 100% attendance at junior school to a quiet, withdrawn child with anxiety who hated school and was fatigued all the time continually feeling sick and losing more and more time off school. Sarah- Louise initially completed a very thorough assessment listening both to us as parents and to Ricky about the difficulties he had, the problems lack of support had brought him and what he wanted her to help with. She also looked through his assessments and made her own assessments of his abilities and levels etc. Sarah-Louise used a range of multi-sensory approaches to aide learning and understanding. Our son was very anxious about anything related to learning due to fear of failure. â€‹ Each week, when we have arrived there has been a different selection of books, games etc, computer programmes for him to use and she always has ideas for things to use at home. We have bought several products she has recommended to use at home. Two months after meeting Sarah-Louise, our eldest son, who was disabled and lived at home, died suddenly and unexpectedly, she has been the most tremendous support to all of us especially to our son whom she is tutoring as he was additionally vulnerable. When we had our son's diagnosis we were advised to apply for a EHCP we made a parental application and Sarah-Louise has supported us in this also resulting in a EHCP being issued and a change of school. Our experience of using Sarah-Louise to tutor our son has been an extremely positive one and we have no hesitation in recommending her as a tutor, not only is she a excellent tutor in our experience but a very caring individual with a brilliant sense of humour. Our son has made improvements in his learning, is now much more confident, is enjoying learning again and really looks forward to his sessions."
Sarah brings an amazing energy to each aspect of her teaching
"Sarah brings an amazing energy to each aspect of her teaching, she managed to captivate the attention of my five year old daughter and I could see real progress with her reading very quickly. I put this down to a combination of the right personality and enthusiasm for the job coupled with an admirable skill set and qualifications. My daughter is now making much better progress at her school and has improved confidence too. Thoroughly impressed!!"
I was so taken back that someone that I didn't know took time out of her busy day
"Sarah Louise contacted me after I put a post on a different facebook page and she rang me at home. I was given some really great advice for my son who has Hypermobility and possible Dyspraxia. I was so taken back that someone that I didn't know took time out of her busy day to talk to me I was so pleased that she did though. Thank you very much x"
I had a lovely chat with Sarah
"I had a lovely chat with Sarah - Louise following my sons diagnosis, she listened carefully to what I asked and said and offered me so great advice - that I'm slowly following through A lovely lady x"
I couldn't recommend Sarah-Louise highly enough
"I couldn't recommend Sarah-Louise highly enough, she has been great supporting and teaching both of my children, my daughter with dyslexia and dyscalculia and my son with processing issues. She is funny and always happy, and my children really look forward to their lessons"
I would definitely recommend Sarah-Louise to anyone
"I would definitely recommend Sarah-Louise to anyone looking for support for their child. She was a big help and support to me and my son when we were going through some hard times, I can’t thank her enough. Keep going Sarah-Louise, you make a big difference."
Sam came home announcing all the famous ‘greats’ who have dyslexia!
""After the first time of meeting Miss Jeffries, Sam came home announcing all the famous ‘greats’ who have dyslexia and from this he has recognised that he too can be ‘great’. Miss Jeffries encourages Sam and enables him to believe in himself. During the first year, he has grown in confidence with all his school work, especially reading, decoding of words and comprehension. Miss Jeffries sets challenges for him to achieve and Sam reminds me of work ‘we’ need to complete. Sam’s end of school exams and report reflect his increase in ability and knowledge. As a parent, Miss Jeffries has always involved me and been on hand to show me how to support Sam using various resources, and tips for learning. Miss Jeffries uses a communication diary each week which has been essential for identifying difficulties but also great successes. Sam has a detailed individual education plan which he is aware of and this is written in such a way that Sam is involved too. ""
Sarah is above and beyond exceptional!
"My son found out nearly 2 years ago he has dyspraxia and dyslexia, after years of underachieving academically, being told constantly he was disruptive in class, basically being put in the ‘failure’ box. He is now 17 years old and was put down a year at school due to this. He is currently revising for his GCSEs, which is incredibly challenging for someone in his situation. Without the support, knowledge and understanding of Sarah-Louise, he would be now looking at GCSE outcomes of U’s, G’s, F’s at a push! I am not joking. He is now attaining and expecting grades of C’s and possibly even B’s in 8 months of absolute focus, tears, tantrums and will power! Sarah is above and beyond exceptional! She has given him the tools and shown him a way of unlocking and using his brain that allows him to effectively work and revise. More than that she has given him tools for life! (Something that the education system failed to do!) He is now much more confident and secure in his abilities and for once in his life now believes he can succeed! And the results are showing this over and over again. There are no words and I will be never be able to express how grateful I am to Sarah… she has quite literally ‘saved him’. What he has gained from Sarah is priceless. She will always be one of the most influential people in his, and my life, for many years to come. All educators need a Sarah!!!"
There was no one else we knew of who was able to do this assessment for us so we were very grateful.”
"Sarah-Louise assessed my daughter for dyscalculia and her very thorough report formed part of the application for her EHCP. It enabled us to give a fuller picture of what our child’s challenges are. Her assessment revealed things that we weren’t aware of. There was no one else we knew of who was able to do this assessment for us so we were very grateful.”"
I am so glad I went with Sarah to get assessed for dyslexia
"I was made to feel so welcome was put at ease straight away and Sarah was so professional in her assessment. I cannot thank her enough, I would recommend her in a heartbeat no questions asked"
Sarah-Louise was extremely professional and thorough
"She provided a really comprehensive assessment and report that has really helped my daughter access the support and help she needs."
Great report - very comprehensive. Really useful in getting a clear educational plan.
"I'm so glad we came to Sarah for an assessment for our eight year old daughter. Her report was detailed, enlightening and received good feedback from the school. It was well worth the investment."
Beth & Andrew
Having a report gives our daughter a big advantage at school
"The fact that we now have such a thorough report for our daughter's dyslexia gives her a big advantage at school now and hopefully when she changes to secondary school this year. Her primary school took everything in the report on board immediately which has helped so much. This last year has taught us so much about our daughter and the way her mind works in such a different ways."
Sarah is amazing!
"I approached Sarah for some support. She did a assessment for us. They report is great easy to read and amazing with my deadline. High recommended Thanks"
Highly recommend Sarah!
"I took my 6yo boy to see Sarah, following a recommendation from our SaL therapist. As soon as I had spoken to Sarah, I knew we had found the right tutor to carry out my son's assessments. We have been with Sarah for a while now, and my sons progression has been incredible! Highly recommend Sarah!"
Adult dyslexia assessment
"I needed an adult dyslexia assessment, felt welcomed and relaxed through the whole thing."
My child is ASC, and Sarah made him feel comfortable and at ease
"Sarah was recommended to us via our SALT. Sarah carried out a very comprehensive assessment for Dyslexia and Irlens. My child is ASC, and Sarah made him feel comfortable and at ease. We have been seeing Sarah now for 4 months, and my child’s reading capacity has improved by 1.3yrs in that time. Sarah has been the light at the end of the tunnel, and my child looks forward to his sessions with her. We can’t recommend Sarah enough!"
Dyslexia and Irlens Assessment
"Sarah did an assessment for my daughter for Dyslexia and Irlens. She was very friendly and made my daughter feel really comfortable. She was very friendly and informative. Her report was very detailed and has helped us work with the school to get my daughter the support she needs."
"Sarah-Louise provided a comprehensive and detailed report of our son. It gave us the information we required to provide our son with the best support possible."
"Sarah - Louise was excellent. Utterly professional! She was great with my son and put him at ease instantly. I recieved a very thorough report which was a great help in getting my son the support that he needs. I would recommend Dyslexia Support Consultancy."
The report made excellent recommendations
"Sarah was great and made my daughter feel really comfortable doing her assessment. The report made excellent recommendations and two months later we have already noticed a big change in her attitude to learning now that she understands why she learns things differently."
This was more than a dyslexia assessment - it was an assessment of the problem.
"I have been fighting for seven years to get to the bottom of the problem, and now we have an answer. This was more than a dyslexia assessment - it was an assessment of the problem. We received an extensive report that covers recommendations for the rest of my son's educational career. We were seen in a timely manner and put immediately at ease. Thank you so much"
A massive thank you for your help
"Sarah was lovely and very helpful when I phoned not knowing what to do next to help my son out. She gave me some advice. I used Sarah because she was friendly and she walked me though how to help my son. He got an assessment with Sarah, it was very detailed and very helpful. And I want to say a massive thank you for all your help."
Thanks to Sarah an incredible new learning journey is about to open up for phoebe
"During lockdown it was obvious that phoebe was still struggling and it wasn’t making sense with her one to one with gone schooling! We decided she needed an assessment so we booked and I can not thank Sarah enough for her time and assessment on Phoebe my 9 year old! I’d only learned of Irlen syndrome a few weeks prior and this made total sense with the struggles Phoebe faces and with the assessment back was surprised that phoebe also has dyslexia and dyscalculia also! So a incredible new learning journey is about to open up for phoebe we already have an appointment for her magic glasses so it’s exciting and we will get school to support phoebe in any way they can Thank you so much Sarah! Highly recommended "