What are the signs of Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is not the same as maths anxiety, but people with dyscalculia can react strongly to activities involving mathematics, for instance they may get upset or frustrated when playing board games.


Keep in mind that all people can occasionally struggle with maths. Those with dyscalculia will struggle to a greater extent than their peers, and their difficulties will continue over time.


Use the following checklists to keep an eye on any potential signs of dyscalculia and then discuss your concerns with your / your child’s educational establishment or your employer.


  • Has trouble learning to count
  • Struggles to connect a number to an object, such as knowing that “3” applies to groups of things like 3 cakes, 3 cars, or 3 friends
  • Struggles to recognize patterns, like smallest to largest or tallest to shortest

Primary School

  • Has difficulty learning and recalling basic number facts such as number bonds, e.g. 6 + 4 = 10.
  • Still uses fingers to count instead of using more advanced strategies (like mental maths)
  • Poor understanding of the signs +, -, xx and x or may confuse these mathematical symbols
  • Struggles to recognise that 3 + 5 is the same as 5 + 3 or may not be able to solve 3 + 26 ‒ 26 without calculating
  • Has trouble with place value, often putting numbers in the wrong column.
  • May not understand maths language or be able to devise a plan to solve a maths problem.
  • Finds it difficult to understand maths phrases like greater than and less than
  • Has trouble keeping score in sports or games
  • Has difficulty working out the total cost of items and can run out of money
  • May avoid situations that require understanding numbers, like playing games that involve maths.

Secondary School

  • Struggles to understand information on charts and graphs.
  • Has trouble finding different approaches to the same maths problem, such as adding the length and width of a rectangle and doubling the answer to solve for the perimeter (rather than adding all the sides).
  • Struggles to learn and understand reasoning methods and multi-step calculation procedures
  • Has trouble measuring items like ingredients in a simple recipe or liquids in a bottle.
  • Lacks confidence in activities that require understanding speed, distance and directions, and may get lost easily.
  • Has trouble applying maths concepts to money, such as calculating the exact change


Typical symptoms include:

  • difficulty counting backwards
  • difficulty remembering ‘basic’ facts
  • slow to perform calculations
  • weak mental arithmetic skills
  • a poor sense of numbers & estimation
  • Difficulty in understanding place value
  • Addition is often the default operation
  • High levels of mathematics anxiety


Source:  Maths Explained