Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects a person’s ability to read and process written language. We most commonly associate it with a challenge learning to read, which is where difficulties are most noticed. However, it is important to recognize that dyslexia can also impact a person’s progress in mathematics as well. In this blog post, we will explore how dyslexia can impact a child’s development of mathematical skills, discuss strategies to overcome those challenges, and highlight the unique strengths that individuals with dyslexia can bring to the world of mathematics.
The Impact of Dyslexia on Math
- Symbol Recognition: Dyslexia often impacts person’s ability to recognize and process symbols, which is a fundamental skill in mathematics. Mathematical concepts heavily rely on symbols, making it tough for kids with dyslexia to interpret mathematical equations and formulas easily. Think about how challenging doing a multiplication problem would be if you don’t recognize the symbol for multiplication. Or if you constantly mix up addition and subtraction symbols. Math class would become a very confusing place!
- Working Memory: Dyslexia can also impact working memory. Working memory is our ability to hold several things in our mind in order to complete multiple step problems or complete multiple step processes. If your child would have difficulty remembering to take off their shoes, put their lunchbox in the kitchen, get out their homework and start an assignment without reminders, they might have a weakness with their working memory skills. With math, multiple step problems that require addition or subtraction followed by multiplication and then division can lead to confusion for students with working memory issues.
- Reading Comprehension: Mathematical word problems require strong reading comprehension skills. Math has a language all of it’s own. Sum, difference, in addition to, times, how many left, how many remaining…. When completing a word problem decoding the words is not enough. Students need an understanding of the language of math, and that can be a challenge for a person with dyslexia. Dyslexia can also make it harder for a person to understand the context and instructions in math problems, leading to errors when atetmpting to solve the problems.
- Organization and Sequencing: Dyslexia often affects a person’s ability to organize information and follow sequential processes. This can make tasks like long division, algebraic manipulations, and geometry proofs particularly challenging.
With the right support, children with dyslexia and math challenges can be successful learners. Together, we can create an inclusive environment that allows these children to reach their full potential in the field of mathematics.