+ The Real Winners Are Students with Dyslexia: Apple vs Google

by Jamie Martin, from  Noodle

You may have noticed a little friendly competition between Apple and Google, the technology giants who are in constant battle to be King of the Hill. During his keynote presentations, Apple’s Tim Cook often jabs at the adoption rate of new versions of Android compared to those of iOS. Google’s inexpensive and versatile Chromebooks are steadily taking over the school market, which once seemed ripe for widespread iPad adoption. Currently, the Apple Watch has slipped past Google Glass as the most intriguing device in the wearables category. The back-and-forth of tech dominance can be dizzying and difficult to follow.

Beyond the corporate rivalry, there is also a divide among consumers. Apple fans swear by any product that is developed in Apple’s ecosphere, while those who have “gone Google” are passionate about less expensive technology that they consider just as functional.

While the debate over which company holds the crown continues, one thing is for certain: The rivalry has been a boon for students with dyslexia. During the past decade, assistive technology (AT) has increasingly become the great academic equalizer for students with language difficulties, and Apple and Google are currently leading the charge. Their strong desire to outdo each other has led each to produce great technology with enough available AT to make them invaluable resources for the dyslexic community. The truth is that if you are a student who has difficulty reading and writing, you can look to either company for helpful accommodations. Better yet, you can study the vast menu of AT options on Mac desktop computers, Chromebooks, iOS devices, and Android devices, and select the combination of tools that will work best for you.

OS X vs. Chrome OS

At one time, the best assistive technology for students with dyslexia could only be found on desktop computers. Software like Dragon Dictate, Inspiration, and Read&Write Gold could turn an iMac or a MacBook into a powerful machine for reading and writing. Then Apple started to integrate accessibility features, such as text-to-speech and dictation, into its desktop operating system, OS X. Today, the combination of accessibility tools and available third-party software allow a Mac computer to be a great option for dyslexic students.

Some families and many school districts are, however, prohibited from adopting Macs due to their high price tag. In those cases, less expensive computers, particularly Chromebooks that run on Google’s Chrome OS, have become an attractive alternative. Schools and individual students can find an array of AT-related extensions and apps that can assist with academic tasks involving reading and writing. In fact, well-known assistive technology companies like Texthelp and Don Johnston, Inc. have started developing Chrome versions of their most popular technologies. Read&Write for Google, Co:Writer Universal, and Snap&Read Universal are all considered essential Chrome tools for dyslexic students. They also integrate nicely with Google Apps for Education, which many schools have adopted as their go-to learning platform.

Certainly, there are advantages to using either operating system. Students who rely on an OS X computer for their assistive technology have access to full-featured software and built-in AT tools that do not necessarily rely on the Internet to function. They can also store all of their work locally on their computers for constant access. On the other hand, students who employ Chrome for help with their schoolwork can access their assistive technology on any computer that is running the Chrome browser. Because apps and extensions are assigned to individual Google accounts (they are not device-specific), students just need to sign in on any machine to access their tools.

Of course, if particular students are devoted Mac users but like the AT tools found in Chrome, they can always use Google technology on Apple hardware. That kind of thing has been happening since the rivalry started.

iOS vs. Android

One of the best things to happen to students with dyslexia was the development of mobile devices, specifically smartphones and tablets. Assistive technology that was once limited to full-size computers and laptops can now fit into students’ pockets — a development that allows AT to be used in locations beyond the classroom. For example, someone who has difficulty reading menu items in a restaurant can utilize the camera, an OCR app, and text-to-speech on a smartphone to select an appetizing entrée.

In educational settings, the touch-screen interface of mobile devices can contribute to multisensory learning experiences that are important to dyslexic students. Apple’s iOS devices and other devices running Google’s Android operating system all offer excellent assistive technology that can aid language-based activities.

Technological Evolution

Frankly, the first iOS devices that Apple produced were not dyslexia-friendly. The integrated text-to-speech, dictation, and word prediction that are found in the latest iterations of the operating system did not exist, and there were few AT-related apps available from third-party developers. Today, students can use iPhones and iPads to read text aloud (with or without synchronized highlighting) and to compose notes, essays, and test responses with multiple spelling and grammar supports. In addition, many of the most popular AT companies have developed iOS apps. Tools created by Inspiration Software, Don Johnston, Inc., Texthelp, Quillsoft, Ginger Software, and Crick Software can all be found in the App Store. Plus, relative newcomers like Winston Chen’s Voice Dream Reader and Learning Ally’s VOICEtext audiobooks are making the iPad even more accessible.

Although slightly younger than iOS, Google’s mobile operating system, Android, has developed into another practical platform for students with dyslexia. Unlike the Apple faithful, users of Android can choose from a variety of hardware such as a Nexus phone or a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Regardless of device preference, dyslexic students using Android can utilize the dictation and word prediction built into the Google Keyboard, along with a feature called TalkBack for text-to-speech support. There are also several popular AT-related apps that have found their way into the Google Play Store. Learning Ally Audio, NaturalReader, and Readability can be used for reading assistance, and MindMeister and Ginger can help students with the writing process.

Third-Party Keyboards

One of the most useful features of both iOS and Android is the ability for students to install and use third-party keyboards. Since true multitasking is still limited on mobile devices, third-party keyboards allow students to use AT tools like advanced word prediction and text-to-speech within any app on their devices. One of the most useful keyboards for dyslexic students, available for both iOS and Android tablets, is TextHelp’s Read&Write keyboard – named Read&Write for iPad and Read&Write for Android, accordingly. It provides word prediction with audio previews, audio feedback while typing, integrated dictionary and picture dictionary, text-to-speech with synchronized highlighting, and spellcheck.

Who Wins?

The competitive relationship between Apple and Google will likely stay intact for many years. In an age when computing devices have become essential to most people’s daily routines, both companies will need to improve their products on an ongoing basis to maintain consumer interest. Will one of them eventually emerge as the undisputed champion? Probably not, but in the world of dyslexia, the winners we care about are the students who benefit from the technology wars in Silicon Valley.

Jamie Martin is a Noodle Expert. An assistive technology consultant and trainer, he was named one of the 67 Influential Educators Who Are Changing the Way We Learn in 2015. Follow him on Twitter @ATDyslexia or visit his website. [Noodle helps students and families make better education decisions.]


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ IEP: You CAN Consent to Part But Not All

by Andrew M I Lee, JD at Understood.org

At a Glance

  • You can consent to some parts of an IEP while disagreeing with others.
  • One way to give partial consent is to add an addendum to the IEP where you explain what you disagree with.
  • If you give partial consent, the school must implement only the parts of the IEP you consented to.

There may be a time when a school presents you with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that you feel isn’t completely right for your child. Can you agree with some parts of the IEP but not others? The answer is yes. Here’s what to keep in mind and some guidelines to consider.

The school needs your consent to provide services.

First, here’s a little background about parental consent. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school needs your informed written consent before it provides services to your child. When you sign the IEP, you’re giving your consent that the school can start providing services. (Note that signing the IEP is different from signing the attendance sheet.)

The law allows for partial consent.

The law allows you to give partial consent to an IEP—to agree with some parts but not others. A school administrator may say to you, “If you don’t sign the whole IEP, we can’t give your child any services.” That’s not correct. If you give partial consent, the school must implement the services you agreed to. The parts of the IEP you don’t agree with cannot be implemented.

For example, let’s say the proposed IEP gives your child one hour of reading instruction per week but also requires an out-of-class behavior program. But you think your child needs two hours a week of reading instruction and you disagree with the behavior program. In writing, you can consent to the reading instruction, but not the number of hours or the behavior program.

As a result, the school won’t implement the behavior program and will provide one hour of reading instruction. You would still have to advocate for how many hours a week your child has reading instruction. You can ask for another IEP team meeting to sort out the disagreement. You also can ask for mediation or a due process hearing at which a hearing officer makes the decision.

Give partial consent using an IEP addendum.

To give partial consent to an IEP, you need to do so in writing to the school. (Keep copies of all correspondences.) One way to do this is to write on the IEP signature page that you partially consent and then attach an addendum that explains your disagreement. Here’s what you might write on the signature page:

Date: (Month/Day/Year)

Signature: (Your signature)

Name: (Your name)

I consent to the implementation of this IEP except for the items listed on Addendum A, attached to this IEP. My partial consent does not mean that I agree that this IEP provides my child a free appropriate public education. I reserve the right to challenge the appropriateness of the entire IEP as well as any of the items listed in Addendum A.
Another way to disagree is to simply mark up the IEP with notes. But using an addendum gives you more space to write. And it can be clearer and easier for others to read.

List all your disagreements with the IEP.

On your addendum page, you should state that you are giving partial consent to the IEP and then list the specific areas of the IEP that you disagree with. This PDF of a template addendum can get you started.

Your addendum should list every area of disagreement, not just services or accommodations. For example, if you disagree with any statements in the IEP or with something that happened during the IEP team meetings, list it here. You can also list any services from a previous IEP that the school took away. If for some reason you can’t attach the addendum, then mail it to the school with a cover letter.

An IEP is not an all-or-nothing choice. You have the right to consent to some parts of an IEP and not others. By doing so in writing, and clearly listing your disagreements with the IEP, you’ll be able to get your child services while protecting your child’s rights.

Key Takeaways

  • You can consent to some parts of the IEP and not others.
  • If you consent to part of an IEP, the school must implement that part.
  • To partially consent, you can sign the IEP signature page, reserve your rights and attach an addendum that lists everything you disagree with.

Andrew M.I. Lee, J.D., is an editor and former attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education and parenting issues.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Apps to Build Math Skills

By Elaine Cheesman, Ph.D.

There are times when we want kids to put down the iPad or tablet and to play traditional games (e.g., dominoes, board games, card games) with humans, particularly when the whole family is on vacation and it has been raining for days. Playing traditional games is beneficial on many social and academic levels and can provide real-time practice for children in both reading and math skills. Research by Ramani and Siegler (2008) suggests that playing board games strengthens proficiency in foundational math tasks—counting, estimating, subitizing (i.e., the ability to perceive at a glance the number of items presented, such as on dice), recognizing written numerals, adding and subtracting, and comparing numerical sizes.

Many children with reading difficulties also struggle with math skills. Even though they may not have been formally diagnosed with dyscalculia, a learning disability related to math calculation, these individuals may display one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Use of inefficient calculation strategies
  • Difficulty memorizing basic arithmetic facts
  • Early difficulty with subtraction
  • Lack of “number sense” (e.g., comparing the relative size of two numbers—Which is greater? 3 or 9)
  • Subitizing
  • Dysfluent processing of written numbers or mathematical symbols
  • Linking written or spoken numbers to the idea of quantity
  • Difficulty understanding place value
  • Trouble learning or understanding multi-step calculation procedures (e.g., multi-digit multiplication and long division)

This App chat reviews math websites and mobile apps that can strengthen basic math skills needed to play traditional family games as well as higher-level calculation skills. It avoids programs/apps that require extensive reading, include in-app purchases, or contain distracting images and/or audio that may disrupt the primary task.

Subitize Tree

Developer: Doodle Smith Ink
Website: http://www.doodlesmithink.com
This app provides subitizing practice using a variety of representations (e.g., dominoes, dice, fingers on hands, and playing cards). Players can choose a specific representation to practice, change the amount of time the images are displayed, and select the range of numbers used. Settings are intuitive and easy to use. The goal is for players to correctly subitize in order to free captive animals. One animal is freed for every four correct responses. Incorrect responses signal display of the correct response. 2


Developer: Division of Labor
Website: http://www.modmath.com
This free app provides virtual graph paper and a keyboard with numbers and math operation symbols for laying out equations and problems in all four operations with whole numbers and fractions. Intuitive settings enable contrasting rows and/or columns. After solving the problems, the user can save, print, and email completed worksheets.

Dexteria Dots—Get in Touch with Math

Website: http://www.dexteria.net
This is an intuitive math game that teaches the concepts of number sense, addition, subtraction, greater-than (>), and less-than (<). The user separates or combines dots to produce a value. For beginners, larger dots represent greater values, and smaller dots represent smaller values. There are three main options for gameplay, and each includes four levels. All levels have time limits. In addition, bonus dots are awarded, and most challenges have multiple solutions.

Ten Frame Fill

Developers: Mike Egan and Randy Hengst
Website: http://www.classroomfocusedsoftware.com
This app is designed to improve addition and subtraction skills in the family of 10. In this app, a ten frame is shown with tokens. The player is shown an addition problem and a complementary subtraction problem and asked, “How many more are needed to make 10?” The players can drag tokens of another color or touch the number for the correct response.

Word Problems

Developers: Mike Egan and Randy Hengst
Website: http://www.classroomfocusedsoftware.com
This app provides practice in simple math word problems requiring addition and subtraction with answers of 10 or less. The user can solve one of three types of equations. The user has the option to use virtual manipulatives to solve the problem and the option to show the number sentence.

X-tra Math.com

Website: http://www.xtramath.com
This free website helps users automatize computation skills in the four operations for problems related to decimals and fractions. Timed activities challenge the user to respond in at least ten seconds, but optimally in three seconds or less, with immediate feedback for slow or incorrect responses. Progress-monitoring graphs show responses of ten seconds, three seconds, and areas that require more practice.


Website: http://www.coolmath4kids.com
This free website calls itself an “amusement park” for math. It features kid-friendly information and engaging games using the four basic operations plus geometry art. The instructions require reading skills, and the visual layout may be distracting for some students. Tabs for both parents and teachers provide guidance, instructions, and options to select targeted activities. A related website for practicing pre-algebra and higher-level math is CoolMath (described below).


Website: http://www.coolmath.com
This free website is an extension of CoolMath4Kids (described above) that provides engaging games and information related to advanced math (e.g., pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, calculus), geometry art, and science. Tabs for both parents and teachers provide guidance, instructions, and options to select targeted activities.


Ramani, G. B. & Siegler, R. S. (2008). Promoting Broad and Stable Improvements in Low-Income Children’s Numerical Knowledge through Playing Number Board Games. Child Development, 79(2), 375-394.


Dr. Cheesman is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. The courses she developed were among the first nine university programs officially recognized by the International Dyslexia Association for meeting the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.

Find this article at the International Dyslexia Association website:  http://www.eida.org

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Camp Spring Creek — Academic and Recreational

by Katey Schultz, from the AOGPE Newsletter 

Camp Spring Creek, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is an academic and recreational camp supporting children with dyslexia ages 7 to 15. It is only one of three AOGPE accredited residential camps in the United States and also offers day-camp opportunities. “So many people with dyslexia are misunderstood,” says Cofounder/Director Susie van der Vorst. “But just look at the wonderful role models we have! Many succeed in spite of their education. Imagine how they’d be if they had been instructed in the ways that they learn best.”

It is precisely that sentiment that led Susie and her husband and Co-Founder Steve van der Vorst to create Camp Spring Creek in 2003. They have been successfully helping and inspiring children ever since, and in more recent years have expanded programming to include yearround AOGPE certification training opportunities. Many of their trainings are grant-funded and offered to teachers at no cost to the school districts or teachers, enabling the OG Approach to find its way into public school classrooms with consistency, quality, and professional observation by Susie, an AOGPE Fellow. “We chose to become AOGPE accredited because we want to be recognized as having the highest standards,” says Susie. In Yancey and Mitchell County, North Carolina – Camp Spring Creek’s home base – more than 30 teachers and teaching assistants have received the Classroom Educator training through the camp’s outreach services, many educators continuing onto Associate Level certification or further.

A typical day at Camp Spring Creek begins with breakfast, followed by a reading hour. Then, campers participate in a five period day including swimming, one-on-one OG tutoring, art, woodshop, and keyboarding/multimedia. The day concludes with an outdoor program, where campers select the activity (paintball, archery, hiking, rock climbing, or lifeguarding), study hall, recess, and then dinner. After clean up, there is an all-camp recreational activity (e.g., capture the flag, campfire). Afterwards campers retreat to their cabins where staff read aloud to them before lights go out. “Our approach is designed to target a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses to help them excel,” says Susie. “We also recognize the value of keeping kids active throughout the day. Our kids can’t learn as well if they’re stuck behind a desk. Learning needs to be hands-on so that they can get multiple senses involved.” The minimum stay at camp is four weeks (boarding or day), though many children stay for 6-8 weeks.

Campers, who come from all over the world, see several grade levels of improvement over the course of just one summer. After departure, a written narrative report is reviewed with the parents by phone. The campers’ families often become lifelong supporters of the camp and send their children back year after year. “We consider all of our campers as part of our extended family,” says Susie. “We’re so fortunate to be entrusted by their families, and we come to love their children as our own. Saying goodbye every summer is always the hardest part for me, but we write letters and connect on the Camp Spring Creek Facebook page. More than anything, I love letting the kids go, knowing that they’ve gained quantifiable skills alongside immeasurable confidence. Now they view their dyslexia as an ability, not a disability.”

For more information on Camp Spring Creek, please visit their website and blog. Website: http://www.campspringcreek.org Blog: http://campspringcreek.wordpress.com C

To learn about the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE): http://www.ortonacademy.org

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Learning and Attention Issues & the Brain

from material by Peg Rosen, Understood.org

The FRONTAL LOBE helps with self-control and focus

  • This part of the brain deals with behavior, decision making and emotions.
  • Where self-control and focus issues are at play, this part of the brain may be wired differently.
  • Pathways that carry information are organized poorly and may not signal well.
  • There may not be efficient use of brain chemicals. Some areas in this part of the brain may be smaller.

The LEFT TEMPORAL and PARIETAL LOBES help with reading

  • Some ares in the back of the brain are crucial when matching sounds to symbols.
  • Other parts of these areas help memorizing sight words
  • In reading issues, this area is underactive.
  • These areas are less active when communicating with the other parts of the brain devoted to reading.

The CEREBELLUM is involved with movement and balance

  • The cerebellum helps to coordinate movement; this includes fine motor skills (writing, tying shoes)
  • Also helps to maintain posture and balance
  • There may be links between this part of the brain and other brain functions ( language processing, emotional processing and ADHD)
  • Researchers are investigating whether those links exist; findings are not clear, and it’s a controversial topic

The PARIETAL LOBES are involved with math

  • The parietal lobes on the right and left sides support math and computation
  • If there are math issues, these areas may be less active
  • They also don’t appear to communicate well with other math-involved areas of the brain

Brain research is a fast-growing field. The biggest strides have been made in the areas of ADHD and dyslexia, but research continues in other areas, too. The more that’s known about learning and attention issues, the better able parents and schools will be to help kids succeed. — Understood.org

Source: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/getting-started/what-you-need-to-know/learning-and-attention-issues-and-the-brain?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg

Peg Rosen has written for numerous digital and print outlets, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping, More, Fitness and Martha Stewart.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+Understanding Dyscalculia

by Amanda Morin, at Understood.org 

What You’ll Learn Below

*What is dyscalculia? *How common is dyscalculia? *What causes dyscalculia? *What are the symptoms of dyscalculia? *What skills are affected by dyscalculia?

*How is dyscalculia diagnosed? *What conditions are related to dyscalculia? *How can professionals help with dyscalculia? *What can be done at home for dyscalculia? *What can make the journey easier?

[at the bottom of this piece, see a link to the source, which has its own links to her citations]


If you’ve been told your child may have dyscalculia, or if you suspect your child has it, you may wonder how to help him. Dyscalculia is a learning issue that causes serious math difficulties. It isn’t as well-known as dyslexia. However, some researchers now think it may be almost as common.

Fortunately, there are many ways you and teachers can help your child. Whether it’s strengthening math skills or boosting his self-esteem, there are steps you can take.

What is dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a brain-based condition that makes it hard to make sense of numbers and math concepts. Some kids with dyscalculia can’t grasp basic number concepts. They work hard to learn and memorize basic number facts. They may know what to do in math class but don’t understand why they’re doing it. In other words, they miss the logic behind it.

Other kids understand the logic behind the math but aren’t sure how and when to apply their knowledge to solving problems.

Dyscalculia goes by many names. Some public schools refer to it as a “mathematics learning disability.” Doctors sometimes call it a “mathematics disorder.” Many kids and parents call it “math dyslexia.”

Your child’s struggle with math can be confusing, especially if he’s doing well in other subjects. This can lead to anxiety and low self-esteem. But parents have the power to change that equation.

There are many tools and strategies that can help with dyscalculia. The trick is finding the ones that work best for your child. Dyscalculia is a lifelong condition, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t be happy and successful.

Number Sense and Other Difficulties

Dyscalculia can affect many different areas of math learning and performance. Different kids have different challenges.

The most common problem is with “number sense.” This is an intuitive understanding of how numbers work, and how to compare and estimate quantities on a number line. Most researchers agree that number sense is at the core of math learning. If kids don’t understand the basics about how numbers work, learning math and using it every day can be very frustrating.

Studies show that even babies have a basic sense of numbers.[1] Dr. Brian Butterworth, a leading researcher in dyscalculia, compares number sense to being color-blind. He says some people are born with number blindness. This makes it hard to tell the difference between quantities.[2]

Number blindness is one reason many kids have trouble connecting numbers to the real world. They can’t grasp the idea that “five cookies” has the same number of objects as “five cakes” and “five apples.”

How common is dyscalculia?

If you hadn’t heard of dyscalculia until recently, you’re not alone. It isn’t as widely discussed as dyslexia, and it’s not as well understood. However, some researchers are beginning to think it may be almost as common as dyslexia.[3,4]

It isn’t clear how often kids identified with dyslexia would also meet the criteria for dyscalculia. Both conditions can affect a child’s ability to understand math-related words.

Scientists can’t say for sure how many children or adults have dyscalculia. This is partly because different groups of researchers use different criteria for what counts as severe math difficulties. There is no central data bank for the research data on dyscalculia. That makes it hard to estimate how many people it affects.

An estimated 6 to 7 percent of elementary school children may have dyscalculia. It’s not uncommon for kids to have more than one learning issue. In fact, 56 percent of kids with a reading disorder also have poor math achievement. And 43 percent of kids with a math disability have poor reading skills.[5]

The good news is that all of these children can excel in other areas.[6]

What causes dyscalculia?

Researchers don’t know exactly what causes dyscalculia. But they’ve identified certain factors that indicate it’s a brain-based condition.

Here are some of the possible causes of dyscalculia:

  • Genes and heredity: Studies of dyscalculia show it’s more common in some families. Researchers have found that a child with dyscalculia often has a parent or sibling with similar math issues. So dyscalculia may be genetic.[7]
  • Brain development: Researchers are using modern brain imaging tools to study the brains of people with and without math issues. What we learn from this research will help us understand how to help kids with dyscalculia. The study also found differences in the surface area, thickness and volume of parts of the brain. Those areas are linked to learning and memory, setting up and monitoring tasks and remembering math facts.[8]
  • Environment: Dyscalculia has been linked to exposure to alcohol in the womb.[9] Prematurity and low birth weight may also play a role in dyscalculia.[10]
  • Brain injury: Studies show that injury to certain parts of the brain can result in what researchers call “acquired dyscalculia.”
    For children with dyscalculia, it’s unclear how much their brain differences are shaped by genetics and how much by their experiences.

Researchers are trying to learn if certain interventions for dyscalculia can “rewire” a child’s brain to make math easier. This concept is known as “neuroplasticity” and has been shown to work in people with dyslexia.[11]

What are the symptoms of dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia includes different kinds of math difficulties. Your child’s symptoms may not look exactly like those in another child. Observing your child and taking notes to share with teachers and doctors are good ways to find the best strategies and supports for your child.

The signs of dyscalculia also look different at different ages. Dyscalculia tends to become more apparent as kids get older. But it can be detected as early as preschool. Here’s what to look for:

Warning Signs in Preschool or Kindergarten

  • Has trouble learning to count, especially when it comes to assigning each object in a group a number
  • Has trouble recognizing number symbols, such as making the connection between “7” and the word seven
  • Struggles to connect a number to a real-life situation, such as knowing that “3” can apply to any group that has three things in it—3 cookies, 3 cars, 3 kids, etc.
  • Has trouble remembering numbers, and skips numbers long after kids the same age can count numbers and remember them in the right order
  • Finds it hard to recognize patterns and sort items by size, shape or color
  • Avoids playing popular games like Candy Land that involve numbers, counting and other math concepts

Warning Signs in Grade School or Middle School

  • Has trouble recognizing numbers and symbols
  • Has difficulty learning and recalling basic math facts, such as 2 + 4 = 6
  • Struggles to identify +, ‒ and other signs and use them correctly
  • May still use fingers to count instead of using more sophisticated strategies
  • Has trouble writing numerals clearly or putting them in the correct column
  • Has trouble coming up with a plan to solve a math problem
  • Struggles to understand words related to math, such as greater than and less than
  • Has trouble telling his left from his right, and has a poor sense of direction
  • Has difficulty remembering phone numbers and game scores
  • Avoids playing games like Risk that involve number strategy
  • Has trouble telling time

Warning Signs in High School

  • Struggles to apply math concepts to everyday life, including money matters such as estimating the total cost, making exact change and figuring out a tip
  • Has trouble measuring things, like ingredients in a simple recipe
  • Struggles with finding his way around and worries about getting lost
  • Has hard time grasping information shown on graphs or charts
  • Has trouble finding different approaches to the same math problem
  • Lacks confidence in activities that require estimating speed and distance, such as playing sports and learning to drive

What skills are affected by dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia affects more than your child’s ability to handle math class and homework. Math skills and concepts are used everywhere from the kitchen to the playground to the workplace.

It’s understandable if you’re concerned about the long-term impact of dyscalculia on your child’s life. But once you identify your child’s weaknesses, you can find ways to work around them by building on strengths. Here are some everyday skills and activities your child may find difficult:

  • Social skills: Failing repeatedly in math class can lead your child to assume failure is inevitable in other areas too. Low self-esteem can affect your child’s willingness to make new friends or participate in afterschool activities. He might also avoid playing games and sports that involve math and keeping score.
  • Sense of direction: Your child might have trouble learning left from right. He may have trouble getting places by reading maps or following directions. Some kids with dyscalculia can’t picture things in their minds. Does your child have trouble imagining how a building or other three-dimensional object would look if viewed from another angle? If so, he may worry about getting lost when changing classes, riding a bike or driving a car.
  • Physical coordination: Dyscalculia can affect how the brain and eyes work together. So your child may have trouble judging distances between objects. He may seem clumsier than other kids the same age.
  • Money management: Dyscalculia can make it difficult to stick to a budget, balance a checkbook and estimate costs. It can also make it hard to calculate a tip and count exact change.
  • Time management: Dyscalculia can affect your child’s ability to measure quantities, including units of time. Your child may have trouble estimating how long a minute is or keeping track of how much time has passed. This can make it hard to stick to a schedule.
  • Other skills: A child may have trouble figuring out how much of an ingredient to use in a recipe. He might have a hard time estimating how fast another car is moving or how far away it is.

How is dyscalculia diagnosed?

If your child is having trouble with math, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what’s going on so you and your child’s teachers can figure out how to help. Less research has been done on dyscalculia than on some other learning issues. That makes identifying the problem more complicated.

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to make the process easier. You and your child’s teachers can talk and keep notes about what types of things your child has trouble doing or understanding. Those notes will come in handy when you speak to your child’s doctor or other health-care providers about what’s worrying you.

There’s no one specific test for dyscalculia. This means getting a diagnosis can involve several steps:

Step 1: Get a medical exam. A medical exam isn’t as formal as it sounds. It’s just you, your child and the pediatrician sitting down to talk about your concerns. Together you’ll make a plan to find out if other medical conditions are contributing to your child’s learning difficulties.

Math issues are common in kids who have certain genetic disorders, in kids who were born early and small, and in those with ADHD. If your child has ADHD, it can be harder to tell whether his math issues are caused by dyscalculia, ADHD or both.

Part of the initial medical exam can be done in the pediatrician’s office. The doctor may refer you to a specialist such as a neurologist or educational psychologist for more in-depth testing. Once doctors have ruled out or identified medical problems, you can take the next step.

Step 2: See an educational professional. Look for a professional who is trained to give tests to determine which math skills your child has trouble with. This might be a school psychologist, or a private psychologist or other professional.

If you’re not given a referral, you can ask about getting one. This is important because even if your child has another condition, such as ADHD, your child may also have dyscalculia. Knowing which symptoms are part of which condition will make it easier to find the most effective strategies for your child.

The psychologist will talk to you about what struggles you’re seeing and will look over your child’s medical and school records. He may also ask your child to:

  • Count some dots. Some tests, like the Dyscalculia Screener developed by Dr. Brian Butterworth, use dot-counting exercises to get insights into a child’s number sense.[12]
  • Count backwards. One frequently used test is the Neuropsychological Test Battery for Number Processing and Calculation in Children (NUCALC). It asks children to count backwards and do other number exercises that involve writing or talking. Don’t let the word “neuropsychological” scare you. It simply means that this test gives professionals a better idea how your child’s brain thinks about and makes sense of math.
  • Ask your child to copy shapes or draw them from memory. Several different screening tools can test how your child sees and understands shapes. If, for example, your child has a rectangle-shaped block in front of him but can’t pick out a card that shows the same block from a different angle, it may indicate trouble with visual-spatial skills.
  • Observe your child in the classroom. Many professionals will want to see how your child interacts with math concepts in everyday settings. Ask if the specialist will observe your child at school.

It’s always a good idea to prepare your child for his session with the educational psychologist. You might explain that the doctor will play some games with him. Assure him that he won’t get a “good” or “bad” grade. The doctor just wants to get to know him better.

If the doctor plans to observe your child at school, consult with the doctor and teacher about how this will be explained to your child and his classmates. Thoughtful preparation can help your child relax and be himself.

Step 3: Put it all together. After examining your child, the psychologist and pediatrician will look at the information gathered. Some psychologists will feel comfortable giving you an informal opinion right away. Others may want to wait until they’ve scored the tests.

If the psychologist wants to wait, ask for an idea of how long it will be before the formal report is ready. Consider scheduling an appointment to come back and go over the results. Having this appointment on the professional’s calendar may help make sure the report is completed in that time frame.

If your child is found to have dyscalculia, you may want to talk with the school about getting an Individualized Education Program (IEP). That program will detail all the different things the school will do to help your child learn math in ways that make the most sense for him.

What conditions are related to dyscalculia?

It isn’t unusual for kids to be diagnosed with dyscalculia and another medical condition. Doctors refer to co-existing conditions as being “comorbid.” Certain conditions can easily be confused for dyscalculia because they have some of the same symptoms.

Conditions that often exist with—or are misdiagnosed as—dyscalculia are:

  • Dyslexia: Children are often diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia. Researchers have found that 43–65 percent of kids with math disabilities also have reading disabilities.[13]
  • ADHD: Children are often diagnosed with dyscalculia and ADHD. But some math errors can be explained by inattention to detail and other characteristics of ADHD. So some experts recommend reevaluating math skills after getting ADHD symptoms under control.[14]
  • Math anxiety: Children with math anxiety are so worried about the prospect of doing math that their fear and nervousness can lead to poor performance on math tests. Some kids may have both math anxiety and dyscalculia.
  • Genetic disorders: Dyscalculia is associated with several genetic disorders including fragile X syndrome, Gerstmann’s syndrome and Turner’s syndrome.[15]

How can professionals help with dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia isn’t as well-known as other learning issues, such as dyslexia. You may need to be persistent to get schools and doctors to take a closer look at your child’s struggles with math.

Here are people who can help:

Your Child’s Teachers

If your child has been identified with dyscalculia and is eligible for special education services, you and the school will come up with a plan of supports and accommodations. These may include giving extra time for tests or letting your child use a calculator.

But even without a diagnosis, your child’s school can do several things to help your child succeed.

  • Response to intervention (RTI) is a program some schools use to provide extra help to students who are falling behind. If your child’s school uses RTI, routine screenings identify which kids need to bone up on certain skills. Then those children will receive small-group instruction either within or outside of their regular classroom. If your child who doesn’t make enough progress in a small group, then the program will give your child more intensive one-on-one instruction.
  • Informal supports are strategies teachers often use to help struggling students. Enlisting the support of your child’s teacher is an important step. Set up a meeting to talk about your mutual concerns. Ask if the teacher is willing to keep a journal of how your child responds to different strategies or math-related activities.

You can do the same at home and compare notes. Here are some common strategies teachers use to help kids with dyscalculia:

  • Using concrete examples that connect math to real life, to strengthen your child’s number sense. Examples: sorting buttons or other familiar objects.
  • Using visual aids when solving problems, including drawing pictures or moving around physical objects—which teachers refer to as “manipulatives.”
  • Assigning manageable amounts of work so your child won’t feel overloaded.
  • Reviewing a recently learned skill before moving on to a new one, and explaining how the skills are related.
  • Supervising work and encouraging your child to talk through the problem-solving process. This can help make sure he’s using the right math rules and formulas.
  • Breaking new lessons into smaller parts that easily show how different skills relate to the new concept. Teachers call this process “chunking.”
  • Letting your child use graph paper to help keep numbers lined up.
  • Using an extra piece of paper to cover up most of what’s on a math test so your child can focus on one problem at a time.
  • Playing math-related games designed to help your child have fun and feel more comfortable with math.

After trying some informal accommodations, you or the school may recommend getting a 504 plan. This is a written plan detailing how the school will accommodate your child’s needs. Accommodations can include things like letting a child:

  • Have more time to take a test.
  • Answer fewer questions on a test.
  • Record lessons and lectures.
  • Use a calculator in class.

Another option is to have your child evaluated for special education services. This will determine whether your child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

An IEP gives you access to more resources, such as assistive technology to help with calculating and other math skills. Either you or the school can request an evaluation.


A tutor can work with your child individually or in a small group. This can help your child focus on mastering the basics and practice skills. A tutor may be able to come up with alternative ways to help your child understand and use math concepts.

Your Child’s Doctor

Sometimes dyscalculia can take such a toll on your child’s self-esteem that anxiety and depression can set in. Talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. A psychologist or other mental health professional might be able to help your child—and you—manage stress.

Parent Advocates
A valuable resource are nonprofit parent advocacy centers. These centers are staffed by parents of children with disabilities. They know how to advocate for their kids and can help you do the same. There’s at least one center in every state.[16]

What can be done at home for dyscalculia?

Parenting a child with dyscalculia can be challenging, especially if you’ve never been confident in your own math skills. But you don’t have to be a math expert. Below are several ways you can help improve your child’s ability to work with numbers. Improving math skills could strengthen his self-esteem and resilience.

Keep in mind that kids (and families) are all different. It takes trial and error to see what suits you and your child. But finding the right strategies and seeing improvement can boost everyone’s confidence.

Don’t panic if the first strategies you try aren’t effective. You may need to try different approaches to find out what works best for your child. Here are some things you can try at home:

  • Learn as much as you can. Understanding the nature of dyscalculia is a good first step toward helping your child strengthen math-related skills. Let your child know that you understand what he’s going through—and that you don’t think he’s lazy, unmotivated or not smart. This can give him the encouragement he needs to keep working on that thorny math problem. It may also reduce some of the anxiety or feelings of inferiority he may be experiencing.
  • Play math games. Practicing number concepts can improve skills and help reduce anxiety at school. Use household objects such as toys, grapes or pairs of socks as often as you can to help connect numbers to everyday activities. Try not to dwell on it or force these games on your child. That might make your child more anxious. Learning is easier when kids are happy and relaxed.
  • Create a homework station. Help your child be more productive during homework time by carving out a space that has as few distractions as possible. You can also help your child by breaking assignments down in smaller, more manageable steps, such as doing five math problems and then taking a break before working on the next five problems.
  • Cozy up with the calculator. For kids who have trouble remembering basic math facts, a calculator can help them focus on using reasoning and problem solving. These skills are highly valued in the workplace—where using a calculator isn’t considered cheating!
  • Boost confidence. Identify your child’s strengths and use them to work on (or work around) weaknesses. Activities that tap into your child’s interests and abilities can help improve self-esteem and increase your child’s resilience. Check out the behavior strategies written by our team of experts. Try to pace yourself and don’t use more than one strategy at a time. That makes it easier to tell which ones are producing a good result.
  • Help your child keep track of time. Whether it’s a hand on the shoulder, a few key words or a cell phone alarm, have a system in place to remind your time-challenged child when to start the next activity.
  • See what it feels like. Use Through Your Child’s Eyes to experience what it’s like to have dyscalculia. Acknowledging that you understand what your child is going through is another way to boost his confidence.
  • Be upbeat. Let your child know when you see him do something well. Praising effort and genuine achievement can help your child feel loved and supported. It can also give your child the confidence to work harder at building skills and help him stay motivated to try new things.

What can make the journey easier?

Whether you’re just starting out or well on your way, this site can help you find more ways to support your child. Our experts have put together a list of strategies that can help in and out of the classroom. These include tips on time management, social skills, handling anxiety and boosting self-esteem. You also may want to check out assistive technology tools and math games.

Consider connecting with other parents of kids with dyscalculia. Hearing from other parents will remind you that you’re not alone—and that there are many ways to help kids succeed and thrive.


  • Many kids with dyscalculia are also found to have dyslexia and/or ADHD.
  • There’s a lot you and your child’s school can do to reinforce his math skills.
  • Boosting self-esteem can help your child bounce back from difficulties and keep trying new strategies.

Amanda Morin is a  parent advocate and former teacher and the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues.  She is author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Source: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/understanding-dyscalculia?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Executive Function: Classroom Accommodations

from  Amanda Morin at Undestood.org

For Teaching

  • Give step-by-step instructions; have student repeat back
  • Give the student an outline of the lesson
  • Say “This is important to know because…”
  • Have a daily routine that doesn’t change
  • Give a short review before teaching new skills
  • Check in frequently to make sure the student understands the work

For the Classroom

  • Post schedules and directions; make sure student sees them
  • Say directions and schedules out loud
  • Make written directions very simple and accurate
  • Highlight key words and ideas on worksheets
  • Give student colored strips to place under sentences when reading

For Organization and Time Management

  • Keep a daily to-do list on the desk so the student can check off assignments
  • Create an assignment notebook for teacher and parents to check
  • Provide an extra set of books for the student to keep at home
  • Keep folders and baskets of supplies available
  • Break down big projects into smaller pieces with more deadlines
  • Create checklists of steps for complex assignments

For Work and Test-Taking

  • Provide a rubric that describes what a successful assignment contains
  • Allow different ways to answer questions, such as circling or saying them
  • Give the student the test format ahead of time so he can focus on content
  • Grade based on work completed, not points off for work not completed
  • Use computer speech-to-text software for writing
  • Use organizers and mind-mapping software

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate and former teacher and the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Source: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-executive-functioning-issues?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com