Fact checked

What is Mathematics Disorder?

A mathematics disorder is a type of learning disorder in which a person has trouble learning math skills and using them in daily...
2 minutes
What is Mathematics Disorder?
Written by:

A mathematics disorder is a learning disorder in which a person, often a child, will have problems learning math skills and using them in everyday life. This disorder sometimes goes hand in hand with another learning disorder like dyslexia or dysgraphia, but other times an individual may be considered average or even above average in other areas. Many times, this condition will be diagnosed early in life and is known as dyscalculia. Another type of mathematics disorder, however, is known as acalculia, which is typically diagnosed well into adulthood after some type of neurological trauma. 

Because these mathematics disorders are medical conditions that affect a student’s ability to learn math concepts, students could benefit from one-on-one instruction from a knowledgeable tutor. Learner tutors are dedicated and passionate individuals who seek to help each and every one of their students succeed academically. Visit Learner.com to learn more about how Learner tutors can help students with math disorders reach their academic goals.

Types of Mathematics Disorders

Many experts believe that there are two types of mathematics disorders. Individuals with mathematical computation disorder often have trouble solving simple math problems, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Those with mathematical reasoning disorder mainly have trouble understanding and using mathematical reasoning skills to solve everyday problems. People with mathematical reasoning disorder, for example, may not understand how to calculate the square footage of a room.

Ways to Help Students With Mathematics Disorders

There are several ways to help students that have a math disorder. There are strategies available to help students overcome learning obstacles associated with mathematical computation disorder, otherwise known as dyscalculia  or dyslexia for numbers.


Dyscalculia has several different labels, including mathematical computation disorder and dyslexia for numbers. There are no medications available that can treat Dyscalculia, but there are things that parents and teachers can do to help students overcome learning hurdles.

 First, it’s important for parents and teachers to partner together so that a child has necessary support and accommodations in school. This way, teachers can offer specialized instruction in the form of pull out groups or one-on-one time with a specialist. Students with Dyscalculia also benefit from  multisensory instruction, which allows students to use their eyes, hands, ears, and body movements to grasp lessons. 

While a parent and child’s math teacher will do all they can to encourage students with Dyscalculia, students struggling with dyslexia for numbers could benefit from additional support. A one-on-one tutor is an excellent way for students to receive lessons geared toward their specific learning disability. 

How Learner Tutors Can Help

Math is an integral part of most academic journeys, and it’s important to prepare students in the most efficient way. These math topics can be difficult to grasp for many students, but they can be especially difficult for students with math disabilities to understand. A tutor can offer one-on-one help and direct feedback for students struggling to grasp basic math facts or more complex math concepts. Tutors can help students with any math difficulties they may encounter in the classroom, including basic math skills or more complex math problems.

Learner tutors can help younger students with mathematical operations, basic math operations, and even their math homework. Younger students who have difficulty learning may be reluctant to learn new math skills, but a tutor can help encourage students with one-on-one support. In addition to teaching children ways to overcome a specific learning disorder, tutors can also build a child's confidence when completing mathematical concepts.

Learner tutors can help older students in a variety of math subjects, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and more. Tutoring is an excellent way to help students who struggle with math dyslexia, dyslexia for numbers, dyscalculia, acalculia, or any other mathematics learning disability to be well prepared for college entrance exams, like the SAT. The SAT can be intimidating for many, especially considering the most recent changes made to the SAT.

Most Recent Changes to SAT

The College Board recently announced several changes to the SAT test that will affect how students take the test starting in 2024. While there were talks of the College Board offering students an at-home option to take their SAT, this is not the case. Instead, students will still have to travel to testing centers to take the SAT, just like they do now. A major change to the SAT will be the format in which students take it. 

Instead of using pencil and paper, the test will be offered digitally. Students will no longer have 3 hours to take the test but will only have 2 hours to complete the exam. Lastly, SAT scores will be available within days instead of weeks. With all of these changes set to take place soon, it’s best for students to be prepared as best they can to combat any test stress or anxiety. If a student struggles with a mathematics disorder, it’s best to have this diagnosed as soon as possible. That way, students can prepare for college entrance exams, like the SAT, in the best way possible to meet their individual needs. If someone is unsure about whether their child has a mathematics disorder or not, there are a few things to watch for.

Signs and Symptoms of Mathematics Disorder

There are a number of signs and symptoms of a mathematics disorder. The most obvious ones can include difficulty in such things as counting, recognizing and writing numbers, and calculating simple arithmetic. Also, an individual with a mathematics disorder may also reverse numbers. He may see the number "92" as "29," and math signs and symbols, such as addition and subtraction signs, may be confusing to him or he may substitute one for the other. Other signs and symptoms of these types of disorders may include things like trouble telling time or the inability to distinguish left from right.

When Is Dyscalculia Typically Diagnosed?

Dyscalculia is generally recognized during elementary school, either by a teacher or by a parent. Children who have a mathematics disorder, including children with dyscalculia, may, however, scoot by until either middle or high school before a problem is recognized. These students often have above average intelligence in areas such as reading or writing.

Teachers may recognize common signs of dyscalculia and speak with a school specialist about these things while also informing parents about the signs they notice. Teachers may notice that students have difficulty counting backwards, difficulty numbering basic facts, a poor sense of numbers, a tendency to be slow to perform calculations, and high levels of mathematics anxiety. Once a teacher documents what they see and discusses with a parent and specialist, the school will likely contact parents to have a meeting to discuss the best options.

How Is a Mathematics Disorder Diagnosed?

Outside of a dyscalculia diagnosis, there are more general steps that teachers can take to help diagnose a possible and unspecific math disorder. When a mathematics disorder is suspected, the student will usually be given standardized math tests. These are used to determine his mathematical ability compared to other students his age. Psychological testing may also be done to rule out any other mental disorders, such as mental retardation, autism, and ADHD. If he tests well below average on the math portions of the tests and other neurological disorders are ruled out, he is usually diagnosed with a mathematics disorder.

Treatment for Mathematics Disorders

A math disorder diagnosis, or other learning disabilities, does not have to be an intimidating thing. There are ways that parents, teachers, and tutors can help students, and there are treatments available. Treatment for mathematics disorders is often successful. Many educators and psychologists believe that catching and treating the problem early is the key to success, and there seems to be evidence to support this. Often, students with a math disability will be placed in special education classes or remedial math. Special math tutors may also help them get a better grasp on the subject. If caught early enough, a mathematics disorder may not pose much of a problem later in life.

Get started with a custom-matched tutor for your child.

Find your tutor

About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

Related Articles

All Articles

Are Your District's Math Scores Keeping Pace? Comparing PSSA Results Across Pennsylvania

We analyzed PSSA math data from across Pennsylvania in order to understand how the current state of math education compares to previous years, and what can be expected moving forward. 

What Can You Do with a Math Degree?

Learn about the career paths that a math degree can lead to, from finance to data analysis. This guide will teach you how to make the most of your education.

What is Inequality in Math?

Explore the concept of inequality in math and its real-world applications in finance, physics, and economics.