Dyscalculia Learning Disability Assessment and Treatment

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Dyscalculia is a broad term for severe difficulties in math. It includes all types of math problems ranging from inability to understand the meaning of numbers to inability to apply math principles to solve problems.

Dyscalculia is one type of learning disability that is served by special education programs.

Causes of Math Disabilities

As with other types of learning disabilities, dyscalculia is believed to involve the language and visual processing centers of the brain.

Evidence suggests learning disabilities such as dyscalculia may be inherited or can be caused by problems with brain development.


Dyscalculia includes a wide range of difficulties with math topics, including the inability to understand the meaning of numbers and their quantities.

Students with dyscalculia cannot understand the basic operations of addition and subtraction. They may not understand complex problems such as multiplication, division, and more abstract problems.

If they do not understand basic math concepts, kids won't be able to retain and build on them to master more complex concepts.


If you suspect your child has dyscalculia, you can make a referral for assessment to determine a diagnosis. Most likely, the school will evaluate to determine if your child has a learning disability in math rather than using the term dyscalculia.

Making this determination usually requires an evaluation to identify the specific types of errors each individual child makes.

If your child qualifies for special education, their teachers will develop an individual education program (IEP). Typical strategies focus on developing math vocabulary and comprehension of math concepts and operations.


People with learning disabilities such as dyscalculia are at-risk for being seen as less capable than they are. However, they have a general ability to learn that is comparable to (or even higher than) their peers. They simply have specific skill weaknesses in some areas.

In many ways, students with learning disabilities have creative problem-solving skills and can achieve well with appropriate specially designed instruction.

Assessment of Dyscalculia

Some assessments are specifically marketed as dyscalculia tests. It is possible, however, for evaluators to determine if a child has dyscalculia and learning disabilities in math through general types of diagnostic math assessments, reviews of student work, and cognitive assessments.

Whatever assessment is used, it is most important that evaluators identify the specific deficits affecting your child's math abilities to enable teachers to develop appropriate instruction to address those problems.​

What to Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Dyscalculia

If you believe or your child has dyscalculia and may be learning disabled, contact your school principal or counselor for information on how to request an assessment for your child.

For students in college and vocational programs, the school advising office can assist with finding appropriate resources.

Dyscalculia Is a Term Not Typically Used in Schools

Your child's school may not use the term dyscalculia, but it can still be used to appropriately evaluate your child's learning disability.

Public schools typically use the labels and language from the federal IDEA regulations.

Dyscalculia is a diagnostic term found in psychiatric diagnostic systems. Schools consider it one of several types of math disorders they can serve under the label of a learning disability.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kaufmann L, von Aster M. The Diagnosis and Management of DyscalculiaDtsch Arztebl Int. 2012;109(45):767-778. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2012.0767

  2. Kaufmann L, Mazzocco MM, Dowker A, et al. Dyscalculia from a developmental and differential perspectiveFront Psychol. 2013;4:516. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00516

  3. Beckmann E, Minnaert A. Non-cognitive Characteristics of Gifted Students With Learning Disabilities: An In-depth Systematic ReviewFront Psychol. 2018;9:504. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00504

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.