Mathematics Disorder

What is mathematics disorder?

Mathematics disorder is a learning disorder. Children with this disorder have math skills much lower than average for their age, intelligence, and education. The disorder affects the child’s success at school.

What is the cause?

The cause of this disorder is not known. Like other learning disorders, it tends to run families. It affects boys and girls equally. Mathematics disorder may also be caused by damage to certain parts of the brain.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms depend on what is average for your child’s age, education, and intelligence. Symptoms may include problems with:

  • Doing simple math, such as mixing up addition and subtraction
  • Counting and remembering numbers
  • Telling time and understanding time limits
  • Having a poor sense of direction (north, south, east, west)

Children with this problem may be good at reading and writing.

How is it diagnosed?

Parents often notice math problems when their child is in first or second grade. However, if your child does well in other areas, the disorder might not be noticed until fifth grade.

If you suspect that your child has a math disorder, talk with your school principal or counselor. Your child may be referred to a specialist in learning disorders. Your child may take IQ and math tests. You will be asked about your child’s behavior, success at school, and any family history of learning disabilities. Your child may be tested to see if there are other problems such as ADHD.

How is it treated?

Mathematics disorder is usually treated by giving your child special instruction in math and having your child devote extra time to learning math skills. Most school districts have special programs to help children with learning disorders. By high school, some children will have improved their math skills and will no longer have a hard time doing math. Teens who continue to struggle with math may limit their career choices. It is very important to get treatment for your child as early as possible.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Find out what services are offered through the school district to help children who have a hard time with math.
  • Learn ways to work with your child at home. Spend regular time at home working with your child on math skills.
  • Teach your child not to be embarrassed about having mathematics disorder. It does not mean that he or she is not intelligent.
  • Be patient with your child. Praise your child for his efforts and for any improvement, however small.
  • Look for your child’s strengths. No one knows what your child may be able to do in time, so don’t set your expectations too low.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-12-03
Last reviewed: 2014-11-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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