A child or adult who presents significant difficulties with basic number processing and calculation, that is to say adding, dividing, subtracting and multiplying may be dyscalculic.
In the Dyslexia Centre, we take as a definition for dyscalculia that which was provided from the department for educational skills 2001 and the definition provided in DSM-5.
Dyscalculia is a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts, lack an intuitive grasp of numbers, and have problems learning number facts and procedures. Even if they produce a correct answer or use a correct method, they may do so mechanically and without confidence (DfES 2001).
Definition provided in DSM-5: specific learning disorder (F81.2) impediment in mathematics, problems with:
• Number sense;
• Memorisation of arithmetic facts;
• Accurate and fluent calculation
• Accurate math reasoning.
In order to make an evaluation and diagnostic assessment for dyscalculia in the Dyslexia Centre, we work to the guidance provided by the specific learning difficulties working group 2005/DfES. In order to conform to all these guidelines, the following process must take place;
• an in depth interview focused on mathematical history and experience
• the administration of a dyscalculia screen
• the administration of a standardised test of core mathematical processing and calculation skills.
This interview can be undertaken with an adult client, an older child, a parent or teacher. It will focus on areas of difficulty which are then presented in the final diagnostic report.
The history section will include identified areas of difficulty such as; feeling anxious or nervous when asked to do maths or algebra, there will also be a section in the report where a mathematical support history is presented for instance; the level and intensity of support and intervention focused on the development of mathematical and calculation processing skills.
The report will also reflect any difficulty with everyday number experience for instance; difficulties with managing money or time management.
The report should also encompass a section where observations are made of the student when undertaking mathematical processing tasks.
There are many dyscalculia screens available, both commercially and free of charge. For students of 14 years + dyscalc 2013 is available free of charge on this website.
Standardised Test of Basic Numeracy Skills.:
The administration of a standardised test; number processing should take place using a reputable well known and well standardised test instrument such as: the WIAT-II numerical operations subtest.
The professional undertaking the diagnostic assessment, will need to take all information into account and furnish the reader with a diagnostic conclusion based on the evidence presented in the report.