How I met Dyscalculia in Vancouver

Have you ever heard of this thing called Dyscalculia? This is kind of a mouthful, but that’s not the point.

It’s a disease where you have difficulty in learning math or a dyslexia in math. It’s not the usual difficulty in learning math .But when you see a kindergartener counting with their fingers, don’t call them out, they should be doing that. But when you see some teens in high school or college, counting with their fingers, you know that they’re either slow, not interested in math or have dyscalculia.

How common is dyscalculia?

Check YouTube and you’ll discover that a lot of people testify that in spite of their high IQ they cannot do math because numbers dissolve and when they do something like 7 + 4, 7 and 4 dissolves and they can’t say the answers without their fingers.

A month ago, I was ignorant about dyscalculia, though I teach math.

I became interested in dyscalculia when I volunteered as tutor at Neighborhood Burnaby House and I was paired with a lady who teaches ESL but would like to be helped in counting money.  As a math teacher, where I think Math is as natural as nature, I was surprised to find people who are disabled with learning math.

How is life for someone with dyscalculia?

Imagine, that you cannot tell the time from a regular clock. They can only use a digital clock.  Most of them do not wear a watch because they don’t want to get embarrassed if others would ask for time.

Imagine, that you can’t count money, you cannot figure out the change. One example I read was about a teenager who had a panic attack when she was confronted with the problem of splitting the cost of a concert ticket and she doesn’t know the answer.  Shopping for them, they say, takes forever.

Imagine that you cannot play cards because you can’t say the sum in the pair of dice. You can’t understand directions, know where the north, south, east and west and you can’t remember names.

Imagine if you are the person in YouTube who said: “I’m a senior in high school and math is the only obstacle that keeps me from graduating…”

I became interested in dyscalculia not just because I was curious how an ESL teacher in BC would need help in counting money.

I became interested because two years ago, I had a college student in the Philippines who I thought was slow and lazy, so I failed her. Her tests were very low and she’s always absent. Her reason for not being around most of the time is that she mixes up her schedule and can’t remember her schedule.

I felt sad last night because she had Dyscalculia and I was ignorant about the disease.

When you type Dyscalculia, spell check tries to change it to a different word. That’s how ignorant people are to this term. Something has to be done to help these people.

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