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Mathematics Learning Disorder

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KEY POINTS

  • Mathematics learning disorder is a learning disability. Children with this disorder have math skills much lower than average even though they have normal or above normal intelligence.
  • Mathematics learning disorder is usually treated by giving your child special instruction in math and having your child devote extra time to learning math skills.
  • It is very important to get treatment for your child as early as possible.

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What is mathematics learning disorder?

Mathematics learning disorder is a learning disability. Children with this disorder have math skills much lower than average for their age and education even though they have normal or above normal intelligence. The disorder affects the child's success at school.

What is the cause?

The cause of this disorder is not known. Like other learning disorders, it tends to run families. It affects boys and girls equally. Mathematics learning disorder may also be caused by damage to certain parts of the brain.

Mathematics learning disorder is more likely if the mother used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, or if birth was premature. It may be a genetic problem. Inside each cell of the body are genes. Genes contain the information that tells the body how to develop and work. Changes in the genes can be passed from parents to children.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms depend on what is average for your child's age and education and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include problems with:

  • Reading and copying numbers
  • Doing simple math such as mixing up addition and subtraction
  • Counting and remembering numbers
  • Handling money and making change
  • Telling time and understanding time limits
  • Having a poor sense of direction (north, south, east, west)

Children with this disorder may be good at reading and writing.

How is it diagnosed?

Parents often notice math problems when their child is in first or second grade. However, if your child does well in other areas, the disorder might not be noticed until fifth grade.

If you suspect that your child has a math disorder, talk with your school principal or counselor. Your child may be referred to a specialist in learning disorders. Your child may take IQ and math tests. You will be asked about your child's behavior, success at school, and any family history of learning disabilities. Your child may be tested to see if there are other problems such as ADHD.

How is it treated?

Mathematics learning disorder is usually treated by giving your child special instruction in math and having your child devote extra time to learning math skills. Most school districts have special programs to help children with learning disorders. By high school, some children will have improved their math skills and will no longer have a hard time doing math. Teens who continue to struggle with math may limit their career choices. It is very important to get treatment for your child as early as possible.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Find out what services are offered through the school district to help children who have a hard time with math.
  • Learn ways to work with your child at home. Spend regular time at home working with your child on math skills.
  • Teach your child not to be embarrassed about having mathematics learning disorder. Help your child to understand the disorder and that it does not mean that he or she is not intelligent.
  • Be patient with your child. Praise your child for all efforts and for any improvement, however small.
  • Look for your child’s strengths. No one knows what your child may be able to do in time, so don’t set your expectations too low.
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-08-26
Last reviewed: 2019-08-12
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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