SO. dyscalculia. i missed dyscalculia awareness day apparently, and i wish i hadn’t because i would have made some goddamn noise about it.
dyscalculia is a lot like dyslexia. SYMPTOMS:
- Normal or accelerated language acquisition: verbal, reading, writing. Poetic ability. Good visual memory for the printed word. Good in the areas of science (until a level requiring higher math skills is reached), geometry (figures with logic not formulas), and creative arts.
- Mistaken recollection of names. Poor name/face retrieval. Substitute names beginning with same letter.
- Difficulty with the abstract concepts of time and direction. Inability to recall schedules, and sequences of past or future events. Unable to keep track of time. May be chronically late.
- Inconsistent results in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Poor mental math ability. Poor with money and credit. Cannot do financial planning or budgeting. Checkbooks not balanced. Short term, not long term financial thinking. Fails to see big financial picture. May have fear of money and cash transactions. May be unable to mentally figure change due back, the amounts to pay for tips, taxes, etc.
- When writing, reading and recalling numbers, these common mistakes are made: number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals.
- Inability to grasp and remember math concepts, rules, formulas, sequence (order of operations), and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Poor long term memory (retention & retrieval) of concept mastery- may be able to perform math operations one day, but draw a blank the next! May be able to do book work but fails all tests and quizzes.
- May be unable to comprehend or “picture” mechanical processes. Lack “big picture/ whole picture” thinking. Poor ability to “visualize or picture” the location of the numbers on the face of a clock, the geographical locations of states, countries, oceans, streets, etc.
- Poor memory for the “layout” of things. Gets lost or disoriented easily. May have a poor sense of direction, lose things often, and seem absent minded. (Remember the absent minded professor?)
- May have difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education. Difficulty sight-reading music, learning fingering to play an instrument, etc.
- May have poor athletic coordination, difficulty keeping up with rapidly changing physical directions like in aerobic, dance, and exercise classes. Difficulty remembering dance step sequences, rules for playing sports.
- Difficulty keeping score during games, or difficulty remembering how to keep score in games, like bowling, etc. Often looses track of whose turn it is during games, like cards and board games. Limited strategic planning ability for games, like chess.
like…. i added a picture of basically how i taught myself to add and i even used that system of counting “edges” to multiply. (like 3x9, put 3 9’s in the “1,2,3” spots, THEN COUNT ALL THE CORNERS ON ALL THREE 9’S….) that’s what i had to do to in secret just to make it through school.
i felt. so. stupid. i still feel really really stupid even now, talking about it as an adult. i couldn’t look at an analog clock without taking 10 seconds or so to figure out the time, i had to give up playing violin in 7th grade and tell my mom i wasn’t interested anymore- because the music was getting too complicated to play by ear and i could NOT for the life of me understand sheet music. in college i failed algebra like fuckin… i dont even know, four times??? it went too fast and i was expected to recall everything from highschool, i could not keep up and trying to learn from the textbook was practically impossible. i’ve always had to talk to teachers and have every single thing explained in detail to be able to pass math classes. i remember in 4th grade i never got to go to recess and i had to stand next to the fence and watch all the other kids play because i literally refused to do math. i would stuff all our worksheets into my desk and hope my teacher didn’t notice. numbers literally pained me too much to look at and try to make sense of.
hardly anyone knows about dyscalculia, i sure as hell didn’t till… less than 6 months ago or something. when i came across the definition my jaw dropped and i wanted to cry and cry, it was such a relief. i’ve always felt INCREDIBLY STUPID about this, and it’s so easy for other people to “get”- even remembering sequences of short numbers for jobs or whatever, like when i worked with taxi dispatch, god. numbers. numbers are everywhere and i have so much anxiety over them built up from this deep-rooted fear that i wasn’t as intelligent as i felt, and i had to keep how awful i was at understanding numbers a huge secret. sure, people could call me bad at math, but bad at telling time? bad at adding numbers in my head quickly? can’t multiply to save my life? have to “show my work” to myself when using a calculator just so i don’t lose track and mess things up in the process?
just sayin. a bit of dyscalculia awareness here, because hardly anyone knows about it and i know there are hundreds of thousands of kids going through the same shit i did. i don’t want them to be 25 before they feel the relief of, “i’m not an idiot! this is a disability, and it doesn’t affect my intelligence at all!”
so yeah. does anyone else with dyscalculia do the “corner counting” thing? also- this is really weird, but the ONLY way i’ve ever been good with numbers is intuiting them, completely out of the blue. i have this really really almost scary talent of, for instance, knowing exactly when to stop shopping at the grocery store because im about to hit my limit. i might glance at how much an item is before i toss it into the cart, but theres no way i could remember that price or keep a tally in my head. i’m usually within $4-5. or when i worked in a deli, after a couple months i could literally feel out exactly .5, 1, 2 pounds of meat on my first try, customers would raise their eyebrows at the scale and think i’d been working there too long. WEIRD HUH BRAINS WHAT ARE THEY
here’s a really informative website if you want more info.
I may actually cry knowing there’s someone else who counts the edges on numbers. Every single word of this is me and every single day of my academic career is and was hell because people are always always always looking at me and going A SCIENTIST WHO CANT MATH GET OUT.