Dyscalculia is a neurological condition that makes it difficult for students to develop numeracy (think of it as “math literacy”). Creating a mental number line, estimating, and recalling formulas can be extremely difficult for these students. Students with dyscalculia often do very well in all other subjects except math. They need extra support developing number sense and may need accommodations to perform well on quizzes and tests.
What is NOT dyscalculia? Math anxiety is not dyscalculia, because it is not neurological. Dyslexia is not dyscalculia, because it affects reading (although it is neurological). Processing disorders are not dyscalculia, because they affect speed, not conceptualization. Poor instruction, low SES status, and trauma are not dyscalculia, because they can be overcome later in life. ADHD/ADD is not dyscalculia, because these disorders affect working and short-term memory, not conceptualization. Only a trained professional can determine if a student has dyscalculia or not.
Dyscalculia affects about 8% of the population. Having dyscalculia means that a student may need support, specialized instruction, and accommodations to show what they know. Students with dyscalculia can absolutely learn math and have great success in math class!