More than half of children who have dyslexia also have dyscalculia (a comparable difficulty with numbers). Not all children who have dyscalculia also have dyslexia. Dyscalculia is an inability to conceptualise numbers as abstract concepts of comparative quantities, in other words a deficit in ‘number sense’. The ways to tackle dyscalculia difficulties are similar to those for dyslexia and so have been included here.

Dyslexia and dyscalculia create the following challenges for a child:

  • Memory – inefficient retrieval and storage systems for remembering facts and words.
  • Confusion of similar sounding words.
  • Problems sequencing sounds; both reading from print and imitating a polysyllabic word or series of numbers.
  • Problems distinguishing between symbols such as p, d, b, q and numbers such as 6 and 9, 2 and 5.
  • Problems scanning text and symbols – difficulty in tracking lines of text.
  • Erratic progress if knowledge is not over-learnt.
  • Poor organisational abilities.
  • Problems using charts and tables.
  • Problems remembering directions (left and right).
  • Problems telling the time and judging time passed.
  • At secondary school the pupil will find moving from class to class, having the correct books, reading a timetable, writing down homework accurately, remembering to do homework, and generally coping with such a different environment to be very stressful at first.
  • undiagnosed Colour Vision Deficiencies (colour blindness).

You can:

  • Try ‘overlearning’ important facts so that the child can store them in a retrievable part of the brain. To do this go through consistent routines so the child learns vocabulary in context. 
  • Revisit previously learnt blocks of knowledge as it can easily be forgotten if not recalled, and subsequent learning also lost.

Learning Together

A guide for teachers and special educational needs co-ordinators

Send us your best practice examples.

Learning Together

Department for Education logo

Times Educational Supplement

Scope is a content partner of the Times Educational Supplement.