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Mathematics disorder


Definition:

Mathematics disorder is a condition in which a child's math ability is far below normal for their age, intelligence, and education.

Alternative Names:

Developmental dyscalculia

Causes:

Children who have mathematics disorder have trouble with simple mathematical equations, such as counting and adding.

Mathematical disorder may appear with:

Symptoms:

The child may have trouble with math, as well as low scores in math classes and on tests.

Problems the child may have include:

  • Trouble with reading, writing, and copying numbers
  • Problems counting and adding numbers, often making simple mistakes
  • Difficulty telling the difference between adding and subtracting
  • Problems understanding math symbols and word problems
  • Inability to line up numbers properly to add, subtract, or multiply
  • Inability to arrange numbers from smallest to largest, or the opposite
  • Inability to understand graphs
Exams and Tests:

Standardized tests can assess the child's math ability. Grades and class performance can also help.

Treatment:

The best treatment is remedial education. Other programs that have been successful include Project Math and computer skills.

Outlook (Prognosis):

Early intervention improves the chances of a better outcome.

Possible Complications:

The child may have problems in school, including behavior problems and loss of self-esteem. Some children with mathematics disorder become anxious or afraid when given math problems, making the problem even worse.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any concerns about your child's development.

Prevention:

Recognizing the problem early is important. Treatment may begin as early as kindergarten or elementary school.

References:

Kelly DP. Neurodevelopmental function and dysfunction in the school-aged child. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 29.


Review Date: 5/14/2014
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, Phd, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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