Math Dyslexia


How to learn when you have Math Dyslexia?

How do people learn math when numbers make no sense at all and won’t stick in their heads.

BELOW we discuss early intervention and ideas how to help but first lets talk about the SKILLS that deteriorate due to Math Dyslexia.

Skills that Deteriorate :

Focus (concentration)


It’s bloody hard to stay focused unless trained from an early age and can get worse with age (I know I have Dyslexia and Math Dyslexia, the older I get the harder it is!!). However if you help children with this early in their lives things can improve.

Divided attention : when attention is distracted with irrelevant stimuli children tire very easily and maths lessons become increasingly harder.

Working memory : like people with Dyslexia those who have Math Dyslexia find temporary storage of information difficult. This affects their ability to complete complex assignments eg following directions, forgetting instructions and tasks, not remembering numbers and delayed mental arithmetic.

Short-term memory : capacity to retain information during a short period of time. This explains the problems of carrying out maths assignments. This mean remembering numbers or multiplication tables becomes very hard unless they find other solutions like Table Fables that teaches children using animation and easy for them to process.

Naming : remembering and recalling names of people and numbers and can be near impossible. The ability to process number information in those with Math Dyslexia is deficient but can be worked on to improve the brain function. So don’t give up if you have Math Dyslexia you can improve.  

Planning : the area of the brain that plans and makes sense of numbers and exercises is low functioning. Meaning maths functions are often completed incorrectly. However again this can be worked on so don’t throw in the towel and say you are useless because guess what you can IMPROVE.


Processing Speed : This is the time it take for our brain to receive information, understand it and respond to it. Children without Math Dyslexia do this process quickly and automatically, while children who have Math Dyslexia need more time and energy in order to process information. Children with Math Dyslexia main problem is processing speed regarding numbers.

Dyslexia & Math Dyslexia : 40-60% of those who are Dyslexic also have Math Dyslexia. Which seems like a double blow but there are upsides and some people believe those who have Dyslexic brains have amazing super powers. It’s no coincidence that 40% of millionaires are dyslexic but only 10 or 15% of the population are dyslexic!!

Early intervention :

Math Dyslexia starts becoming noticeable during pre-school years, when the child begins to develop mathematical learning skills.

As the children continue to grow, their difficulties become more pronounced, so it is essential to seek help early on. The most important thing in Math Dyslexia cases is early identification, and for this reason parents as well as teachers should be alert in order to detect the difficulties and symptoms as early as possible.

The earlier we can offer these children the intervention tools necessary to help them adapt to school, the more likely they are to optimise their mental resources and learning strategies.

Other Characteristics and Symptoms of Math Dyslexia

pre-school aged children:

  • Difficulties learning how to count : confusing numbers, counting in the wrong order, missing numbers when counting. If you asked them to count from 4 and continue to 10 they would find that impossible.

  • Inability to classify and measure: eg connecting the number “2” to the possibility of having 2 candies, 2 books, 2 plates, etc.

  • Problems recognising symbols associated with numbers : eg inability to associate “4” to the concept “four”.

  • Written errors : writing numbers back to front or writing down 7 when you said 4.

  • Shapes and Sizes : A Math Dyslexic child will bring you the round ball rather than the square box you asked for.

Primary school aged children:

  • Problems recognising mathematical symbols: Confuse the signs x, + ÷ - and cannot use them correctly.

  • Basic mathematic structures : problems adding, subtracting and recognising words like more or less.

  • Fingers : will often use fingers to count simple calculations.

  • Math rules : problems remembering simple steps and processes. Will often do them in the wrong order or skip steps they don’t understand.

  • Multiplications : incredibly hard to remember their Times Tables or Dividing facts. Sites like Table Fables will help enormously with this an addition problems.

  • Decimals or columns : lining up numbers in columns and decimals hard.

  • Mental arithmetic : difficulties doing basic math in their head.

  • Spoken problems : don’t understand spoken or dictated problems. Need to see them written down to comprehend.

  • Telling Time : problems understanding concepts like quarter to, twenty past. Problems converting from digital to analog clocks. Poor concept of time.

  • Orientation : can often get lost or poor orientation.

Symptoms of math dyslexia in high school:

  • Day to day mathematics : difficulty apply math ideas to every day life. Eg working out how much spent in total, working out change, budgeting, remembering directions or addresses.

  • Measuring : following and calculating recipes and quantities eg 500g of rice, 250ml of milk or 1/3kg of flour.

  • Time Keeping : poor concept of time and is often late or misses appointments.

  • Directions : poor orientation, finds following directions hard and often gets lost. Using maps and orientation can be hard.

  • Basic math equations : difficulty remembering and manipulating math or science formulas.

  • Graphs or charts : difficulty comprehending information presented in graphs and charts.

  • Driving : can find driving hard as calculating speed or distance is challenging.

It is important to mention that not all children who have trouble doing mathematical equations have math dyslexia. It is essential to identify the frequency of symptoms.

Games to beat Math Dyslexia

(play games one on one rather than as a family - those with Math Dyslexia get very embarrassed in front of others)

Math Dyslexia isn’t easy to diagnose, and most schools don’t have any type of early detection system in place to identify this disorder. They also don’t have any help in the classroom or tools needed to help those who suffer from Math Dyslexia.

For this reason it is often up to parents and families to be alert and identify the early symptoms. If you think your child has Math Dyslexia / Dyscalculia, an assessment may be useful to get your school to give extra attention.

Whether you get a diagnosis or not it is important to motivate your child and show them that they can be successful with patience, practice, and effort. They need to be reminded that they have other gifts, and to know that Math Dyslexia does not have to negatively affect their work.


Play games with them at home will help them visualise math homework and work at their own pace.

Cook together

  • Reading recipes can be really hard so start with 'You Tube’ recipes first then move on to written ones. Make sure they are in charge of measuring out ingredients.

Play with the clock

  • Set a timer and get the child to tell you what time it is when the alarm goes off. They then have to convert that to analog time. This may be hard for them but give them lots of praise and encouragement.

Go to the supermarket

  • Get them to help you go shopping. They need to be responsible for how many things you buy, identify what and how many things are on the list. Make sure they get the items themselves.

Ask them questions about prices

  • Ask them which yogurts are cheaper. Which bag of apples is cheaper. Celebrate if you make any savings.

Play counting

  • Count, for example, all the blue cars you see, count the number of people you see with white shoes, count how many stairs you go up...

Find numbers

  • As you walk around play “finding numbers”, suggest that they find the number “8”, and you both look for the number on the street, license plates, etc.

Play remember telephone numbers

  • Get them to call Mum, Dad or Grandparents and ask them if they remember the first three numbers and you remember the rest. Get them to press the numbers. See if you can increase by one number each time.


Play guess the pile

  • Make little mountains out of rocks, peas, or change and you have to guess which pile has more or less. You can also try to guess how many rocks there are in the pile. You count them together, and whoever get closer, wins.



  • Get them to cut the cake into 4 pieces. Get them to hand out the same amount of sweets to everyone.


setting the table

  • They have to check there is enough of everything for the number of people eating.

Play with sHOP

  • Make an imaginary shop. Label items with prices and get the children to buy the items and work out what change they need.


Play monopoly & Card Games

  • Play any games that involve money or counting. Monopoly is great for this and make sure they are banker. Also card games like 21 are good for adding.