View Full Version : Possible Math LD in addition to ADD?


MamaD
11-10-14, 06:54 PM
I'm normally a lurker, but I'm really stumped and hoping for some insight. I have a 4th-grade boy, diagnosed with ADHD in 2nd grade, who is really struggling in school. I'm getting very worried that his self-esteem is falling each day at school.

We've tried many meds, and ended up with plain old Adderall, which helps him focus somewhat. He does not like the way he feels on it, though.

I'm starting to wonder if he could have a math-related LD, but I know very little about the subject. After doing some research online, here are the things that jumped out at me:

Memorizing times tables is just not happening, no matter how much we practice. The school psych thinks this is because it's so tedious, and he might be right. It seems like he doesn't understand that numbers represent amounts of things, if that makes sense. For example, he doesn't see that 3x5 is the same as 5x3, and that if he knows one he knows the other.

Sense of time is completely off - which can be attributed to the ADD - but he also can't tell time on an analog clock, or figure out how much time is left to do something. We work on it frequently. He has no sense of calendar time either, the order of the seasons, how long until his birthday, etc.

Also, he doesn't get money. He can't remember which coin is worth what amount (or what it's name is), or how much change you should get when you buy something for .75 and pay with a dollar.

He also has specific memory issues, for instance can't remember which grandparent has which name, names of his nearby cousins, names of classmates. Otherwise, his short and long-term memory seem fine. He also has a freakishly advanced vocabulary. He's a talented writer and has a great imagination. Talks and asks questions nonstop!

The school psych thinks all of these things are coming from the ADD, but some of it doesn't make sense to me. Why would a kid with ADD be unable to read a clock, know that 4 quarters equals a dollar, or recall names of family members he knows well?

I'm just throwing that out there. Any info/advice would really be appreciated. Thanks.

anonymouslyadd
11-10-14, 07:03 PM
Otherwise, his short and long-term memory seem fine. He also has a freakishly advanced vocabulary. He's a talented writer and has a great imagination. Talks and asks questions nonstop!
Focus on advancing his writing skills! In the grand scheme of things, advancing his writing skills is more important than what he's lacking in math.

I wasted years trying to "get better" at math and those awful word problems. Teachers and my parents neglected what I was really good at: writing/communication.

I know this doesn't help you with his math difficulties. Certainly, he needs a foundation of arithmetic, money, etc. However, keep it in perspective with what he'll be doing for most of his life. He probably won't be a mathematician but might make a great communications director.

anonymouslyadd
11-10-14, 07:11 PM
Memorizing times tables is just not happening, no matter how much we practice. The school psych thinks this is because it's so tedious, and he might be right. It seems like he doesn't understand that numbers represent amounts of things, if that makes sense. For example, he doesn't see that 3x5 is the same as 5x3, and that if he knows one he knows the other.
Doing the same thing over and over again nauseates us.
Sense of time is completely off - which can be attributed to the ADD - but he also can't tell time on an analog clock, or figure out how much time is left to do something. We work on it frequently. He has no sense of calendar time either, the order of the seasons, how long until his birthday, etc.
ADDers have a poor sense of time. Focus on the concepts so that when he needs to obtain time or something having to do with time, he'll have the tools to do it. I'm currently in the library but couldn't tell you how long I've been here for. I cannot do it. There's nothing to learn. There's nothing to train. However, if I know that I set aside time to be at the library, I could probably give a good estimate of how long I've been here. Does that make sense?
He also has specific memory issues, for instance can't remember which grandparent has which name, names of his nearby cousins, names of classmates. Otherwise, his short and long-term memory seem fine.
ADDers have a poor working memory and our memory recall abilities are impaired.
The school psych thinks all of these things are coming from the ADD, but some of it doesn't make sense to me. Why would a kid with ADD be unable to read a clock, know that 4 quarters equals a dollar, or recall names of family members he knows well?
Four quarters equal one. Four quarters of money equal $1.00. Does he understand that 1 = $1.00?

Focus on creative ways to teach him concepts. Tell him that he's going to struggle with paying attention. When helping him learn, tell him that you know he's struggling.

stef
11-10-14, 07:22 PM
You should look up dyscalcula, it's inversing numbers!
I still have problems with change and paying for things in cash sometimes ( i am over 40...). I memorized math without really understanding it.
And yes encourage writing, always useful and I use my writing skills every day at work.

zette93
11-10-14, 11:25 PM
There's a good website called National Center for Learning Disorders (ncld.org) that has information about dyscalculia. I don't know much about how much dyscalculia has been researched, or the recommended treatments, but the company that sells my dyslexic son's reading program (Winsor Learning -- Sonday) also has a math program called KP Mathematics.

Does he have trouble with understanding the quantities that numbers represent, or counting items? Does he have trouble skip-counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's, or understanding place value?

Interestingly enough, several of the issues you listed are also considered symptoms of dyslexia:
* trouble memorizing math facts
* trouble reading analog clocks
* trouble pulling a desired word from memory (in this case names)
* I haven't seen it on a symptoms list, but my dyslexic son also had unusual trouble learning the names and values of coins.

It also occurs to me that your son might be somewhat face-blind -- he can't recall people's names because at some level he struggles to tell them apart. My son definitely uses hairstyle and identifying features rather than recognizing faces in a lot of cases.

My impression is that at the core of dyslexia is actually a language processing issue -- not just the sounds in words but also word retrieval in general are affected. Somehow there is trouble associating the visual of analog clocks and coins with the words and meaning of time and amount.

I'm reading a fascinating book called The Number Sense that goes into what brain researchers have been able to tease out about mathematical understanding. Times tables and other groups of facts require retrieval from language areas of the brain.

How is his reading speed/fluency? Does he read quickly and easily or is it choppy? Many dyslexics hit a wall in 3rd or 4th grade when an inefficient mechanism for identifying written words can't keep up with the growth in written vocabulary around this age. I'll PM you links to the best free videos by Susan Barton that describe the symptoms and classic reading mistakes.