Dyscalculia: Arithmetical "dyslexia"

Dude... I have always felt like I had some kind of problem with math. Like a fundamental roadblock to being able to handle numbers properly in basic ways. Reading this post from Jason Goldman at Child's Play about dyscalculia is totally eerie: I am reading my own childhood (and continuing) struggles described to a t. I guess it was just my general stubborness to push through it and alternative strategies for making math work for me that helped me make it through a Chem major, a PhD and to where I am now as a TT professor...

5 responses so far

  • Matty Smith says:

    I totally empathise. I have dyscalculia too, and although I know I could cope in the sciences, I feel I would struggle to be as good as I'd want to be, so I've plunked myself down in the arts. Even at 25 years old, I find it extremely difficult to read analogue clocks - I have do the calculation on them (counting round the marks and working out which hand is which) each and every single time I try to read them and it takes forever. I can only tell left from right immediately by flexing out my left hand into an L. I can do math, the logic is there. I just need a long time to do it, much longer than anyone else, because my brain is so inefficient at dealing with it.

    To get where you are now with dyscalculia shows amazing persistence. You should pat yourself on the back.

  • chemicalbilology says:

    Yes!! I also have trouble with clocks, ahhaha! And my husband teases me everytime I am paying the bill at a restaurant: to make it easier for myself, I always do 20%, but even then I usually have to get the 10% number automatically, round up to the nearest whole dollar and double that, and then calculate out the total bill + tip the long way (carrying ones and whatnot). About 5 seconds into that process (which takes me about a minute or two), he has already come to the final number we need (usually without even doing the rounding part, which is my cheating shortcut to 20%).

    Thanks. It's a lot of work to be bad at this stuff!! Sigh.

  • Dirk Hanson says:

    "It’s a lot of work to be bad at this stuff!!"

    No kidding. It takes me longer than anybody I know to calculate the correct change from a routine transaction with a five dollar bill.

  • cmt says:

    I don't know if I would have go far as saying I have a learning disability (I am a theoretical physicist, after all) but I am completely unable to do arithmetic in any reasonable amount of time. When I do have to calculate, it seems easiest to round things up (or down) and make the final correction later (I use the "round up then double 10% trick" all the time, though it only takes me around 15 seconds). Doesn't help with 8 x 7 much. Lucky for me, there are not any numbers in theoretical physics.

    I also get lost easily. And by easily, I mean that I have gotten lost in the building I work in, despite the fact that I had visited that particular area several times before. I just can't figure out which way I'm facing. I am able to memorize maps and figure out which way to orient myself once I have enough points of reference, but it's something that my 3 year old seems to be able to do automatically.

  • Namnezia says:

    I'm always made fun of, because I can never figure out how old I am. Nor how old my kids and spouse are. The only way I can do math is by concocting these elaborate and inefficient schemes in my head. To me though, me being bad at math is more related to not really being able to easily convert between equations and real life numbers or relationships between values. To me a graph is 100 times more useful than an equation, which usually means little to me.

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