Dyscalculia: Possible Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

dyscalculia in adults treatment

Dyscalculia, or “math dyslexia” as some people call it, is a learning difficulty caused by a brain disorder.

According to experts this condition negatively impacts the ability to conceptualize and perform arithmetical calculations.

More often than not, this disorder affects children of preschool age and even kids in their early teens.

However, this condition is as prevalent in adults as it is in children. Something that could impact their daily life in matters as simple as purchasing a coffee or following an address.

Dyscalculia is independent of the level of intelligence of the individual. The issue people with this disorder face is the impaired ability to grasp number-related concepts.

In some cases, doctors tend to divide Dyscalculia into two issues or categories.

The first one being Visual-spatial disabilities, which refers to the difficulty in recognizing patterns and interpreting what the eye perceives.

The other would be Language processing disabilities, which is the difficulty in understanding mathematical language and word problems.

Possible Causes

Some define Dyscalculia as a neuronal dysfunction in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), a portion of the brain associated with a wide range of sensorimotor functions.

However, medical experts are still unsure about the exact cause of Dyscalculia. But, they have identified some potential factors that could lead to the development of this disorder.

Some say that genetics may play a role in whether or not an individual born with this condition. They base their conclusion on the fact that Dyscalculia seems to run in families.

Others studied the brain structure of patients with this disorder to find out the thickness and volume of some portions of the brain are different from usual standards.

The same researchers state that they found odd patterns in the activation of some areas of the human brain related to numerical and mathematical processing.

Some medical experts link Dyscalculia to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is a condition that can cause cognitive impairment and learning disabilities.

In the case of adults with Dyscalculia, the cause is either a genetic factor or a brain injury.

When the cause of this disorder is brain trauma, medical experts refer to the condition as Acquired Dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia Symptoms

Not many experts or researchers had conducted studies about Dyscalculia, which means there is no definite list of symptoms.

However, adults with Dyscalculia are prone to display several signs typical of this disorder. Some usual symptoms are listed here below:

  • A lot of trouble learning advanced mathematical and arithmetical content.
  • Significant struggle with budgeting and balancing checking accounts.
  • Difficulty in sticking to a schedule.
  • Inability to mentally interpret mathematical language or number-based content.
  • The remarkable trouble with following directions.
  • Difficulty in recalling dates, names, and faces.
  • Anxiety when having to deal with math-related tasks.
  • Significant struggle with learning dance steps or anything that involves motor sequencing.
  • In some cases, other learning disabilities such as Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) could occur.

Some people that suffer from this disorder find it significantly hard to use Excel formulas at work, and they could even skip or transpose numerical characters when reading a long list or spreadsheet.


There are some test available online to determine if someone has Dyscalculia and other similar conditions.

However, particular experts such as neuropsychologists and educational psychologists are the ones best suited to identify cases of learning disorders in adulthood.

The test involves questions about potential issues the individual may have with mental math, motor sequencing activities, sense of time, short-term and long-term memory as well as awareness of the surroundings.

Dyscalculia Treatment

There is no known cure for Dyscalculia. But, there are some measures people can follow to manage this condition and continue with the usual activities in the workplace.

If people have trouble with mathematical operations such as adding, subtracting or multiplying, they could get a calculator to simplify their tasks and speed things up.

If the job demands meetings from time to time, individuals with Dyscalculia can use scratch paper during those situations to work out math problems as they come up.

If multiplication is necessary for the job, people may post a multiplication table near their work area.

They can also use jigs or pre-measurement guides and time management tools (cellphone alarms or timers).

Some young could take special education to develop math skills and learn to interpret numerical characters.