View Full Version : Dyscalculia and ADHD
roseblood 080708, 02:13 PM My maths (or 'math' for my American friends) has usually been below average, sometimes average, but much lower than my verbal and other conceptual skills. All except one time aged nine when we were given a test with problems of a kind I hadn't seen before and didn't even know were maths, because as I recall there were no numbers in it. I got the highest score in the class for the first and last time.
I don't know if this is just due to my weak shortterm memory making problem solving and arithmetic difficult, or the fact that I find it so hard to keep up with the relatively lengthy explanations given and didn't start listening to any of them at all until I was a teenager, or another problem like maths phobia. Those things and more could fall under the umbrella term 'dyscalculia' but if it's just due to ADHD symptoms then maybe I can expect ADHD treatment to improve my maths.
Question is has anyone found that their maths significantly improves when their ADHD symptoms are reduced? Not when they're just compensated for with organisation methods etc. but when the underlying issues like working memory and sustained concentration are improved, as with medication or other treatment.
I was top at maths up untill stuff like calculus, then i failed teribly, although aplied maths was still very good at.
again, its anything that came naturaly i was excelent at, but if i had to work then i didnt do well.
I was never officially diagnosed with "dyscalculia" but in retrospect I believe I had some form of it. The number reversals, the problems with keeping lines straight, problems with understanding and memorizing multiplication and division tables, and on and on. Just scraped by in higher math courses.
However, I have been tested and am excellent at analytical thought. I did well in high school physics and well in university statistics.
As for improvement, since treatment I have found I'm able to do and enjoy origami, so the three dimensional from two dimensions aspect of math I've been able to understand. Also following knitting patterns and discovered I could crochet without instruction and without pattern. My eldest son (9) is a general whiz at maths but I was able to teach him the multiplication table in an hour (it was great fun) and when he seemed to be having trouble with geometry I was able to easily teach it to him.
Since treatment I have personally found that I have a new enthusiasm for math. Through working with my son I've found part of the trouble in the past was the way math was taught to me. I'm a "top down learner"  I need to understand the general picture before I can understand the details. However, since treatment I can learn by "bottom up" (:)). I think that's the reason I can finally do origami.
I think many of us were pushed through math without understanding the basic premises of what we were doing. Without that we can't memorize the details because we weren't given, or allowed to understand, a framework (like trying to hang ornaments on a Christmas tree  no tree branches, the decorations fall to the ground and smash). Without that sort of basic understanding, even if we can memorize the details, we get lost in higher maths.
roseblood 080808, 11:23 AM I'm very much a 'top down learner' too. I think everyone would benefit from at least some attention to the logical principles, but it seems to me that the more people struggle with maths, the more emphasis is put on memorisation in the belief that this is all they can hope to achieve, when really it may be what they're worse at than other people. All the same, I struggled much more than most people of roughly equal ability elsewhere.
Hopefully ADHD treatment will improve some things, as it did for gogogo.
I'd love to be able to do origami!
I should have added more information before. Here are some more symptoms I've found online and from people who have it, and whether they apply to me:
Trouble remembering important numbers, such as phone numbers (check)
Poor coordination (check)
Trouble keeping score, keeping track of turns, playing strategically and learning rules in games (quadruplecheck)
Trouble keeping up with and learning rapidly changing motor sequences, as with dance and aerobic routines (check)
Trouble learning and visualising relative locations, as with maps or clock faces (check)
Poor sense of time, often late (check)
Poor sense of direction, easily lost or disorientated (check)
Poor name/face recall (doublecheck)
Poor sightreading or fingering in music (don't know, never learned)
Poor reading of analog clocks (no)
Even most of these things could potentially be caused by inattentiveness too, couldn't they? People's attention is better when interested due to dopamine release, including people with ADHD, so a lack of interest in or patience for the above, despite forcing one's self to try, could appear as a specific learning disability in people who are already shorter of dopamine than most and so struggle even more when not interested. It's true that I'm not as interested in what people look like as most people are to the extent that I rarely notice what anyone's wearing (a good and bad thing), and I've never been naturally interested in how to find places. That alone could explain why I struggle to learn them more than I do most other things.
when i was first on the medication my doctor said "wel your maths has imprtoved" as he was having trouble working out the number of tablets for an dose wich increased by 1 tablet ebery 5 days, for 30 days, i did it in my head quite quickly. it took him quite some time to verify i was correct. I found i could easily hold a few numbers in my head wheres before meds i always had to write numbers down and just do 2 at a time and write the result down etc... or just use calculator.
roseblood 080808, 12:05 PM when i was first on the medication my doctor said "wel your maths has imprtoved" as he was having trouble working out the number of tablets for an dose wich increased by 1 tablet ebery 5 days, for 30 days, i did it in my head quite quickly. it took him quite some time to verify i was correct. I found i could easily hold a few numbers in my head wheres before meds i always had to write numbers down and just do 2 at a time and write the result down etc... or just use calculator.
Cool! Quicker mental arithmetic would improve my confidence and patience for maths in general I reckon. My confidence was first knocked when I couldn't find the final cartoon fish in some stupid counting exercise and wasn't allowed to move on to what the other children were all doing until I did, when I started school aged 4 and half. Remember deciding I hated maths there and then. :rolleyes:
lostranslation 080808, 12:28 PM I have also never been diagnosed with discalculia, but no doubt I have it. Meds help a tiny bit, but not much, and not reliably. I could check all the symptoms Roseblood listed. Barely made it through high school, and will never have any kind of higher education because of it. I spent years taking adult math courses trying to improve myself, but I don't retain it well. Maybe if I understood some of the logic behind numbers it might be easier, but the thought of that just makes my brain hurt.
EYEFORGOT 082708, 08:19 PM Well, my ADD is treated, I have more focus but math is no better. In fact, I didn't know how awful my math is until I tried home schooling my son in math beyond the 3rd grade level. Everything else I teach is fine, but he won't be learning math from me.
I don't even know what I can do about it. I'm frustrated at tacking on another "disorder" to my list of ailments that no one will believe. I have to find what works for him that he can do without me.
roseblood 082908, 04:55 PM Thanks for sharing, EYEFORGOT. Suggests ADHD symptoms aren't the only cause of dyscalculia. I'm only recently starting to appreciate how complicated LDs are.
PinkRoxy 022709, 04:14 AM I havent been diagnosed but the symptoms of Dyscalculia describes me. I also have ADD.
When Im at work and a customer is purchasing something and I ram it on the till, I have to rely on the till to tell methe right amount of change because I just cant work it out in my head straight away, and if the till is down and Im on reception I KNOW I have to have a calculator handy.
I was always bad at maths at school, I didnt understand it and anything to do with numbers confuse me. I get ****ed off when I get a password with lots of numbers in it because I have to look up the number one by one to type it, its like a bad speller who has to look at word by word to write it.
RedHairedWitch 022709, 04:51 AM While chatting with a member here, they suggested I might have Dyscalculia. And it turned out I do. Explains why I was in honors English and remedial math...
ps I learned today that in some countries, they put an "s" at the end of math for some reason ... yay
I have always been able to do math in my head, but rather poorly from a book or on the computer/calculator.
I really enjoy lectures in my algebra class.. I can sit there and watch the instructor writing down problems on the board and walking us through them.
I don't take any notes as I found that was a real hinderance for me.
I work the problems in my head and find that I can have the answer sooner than the instructor does.. although she is moving slower due to the lecture aspect of it.
I used to beat out my former wife at mental math games.. she's a doctor no less!:p
But... whenever we have problems to do out of the book... or we do that Optimath on the computer... I really struggle.
It's the same thing we do in class!
I've mentioned it here before, but I cannot retain information unless I really understand it.
You can teach me an equation, I can do an example right then.. but later on.. I won't remember it if I don't really understand how it works.
An example I use is the formula for the area of a triangle... A+1/2bh
I can only recall it now because I can picture a rectangle split into two triangles... and I then understand where the 1/2 comes from and what it does.
I really haven't looked into dyscalculia at all, so I don't even know if what I'm saying has anything to do with it... but I'm off work now and if I stop spending my time here... I'll just have to go home to an empty house.:o
I definitely have this! I had some similar experience early on in grade school (whoever just posted about the stupid fish exercise) and became wary of numbers early on. I have to triple check anything involving dates and numbers at work, including phone messages.
just yesterday, I panicked for a whole afternoon and last night and part of this morning, because I thought I had only 2 weeks to finish something. starting monday march 2  I thought the following monday was already march 14 because I was MULTIPLYING rather than adding.
PinkRoxy 022709, 05:27 AM ps I learned today that in some countries, they put an "s" at the end of math for some reason ... yay
yeah Ive always put an s at the end of the word maths lol.
Is America different ??
the British say maths and sport rather than math and sports
Howard_C 022709, 11:59 PM ps I learned today that in some countries, they put an "s" at the end of math for some reason ... yay
Its that British Influence  Canadians and Aussies too :)
It goes with using the term "whilst" which they use instead of "while" (it seems only used to discuss things which happen at the same time, but apparently it isn't used to compare two things), while Americans, on the other hand, will use "while" while discussing temporal matters as well as for making comparrisons.
I believe the Americans are on the wrong side of this usage.
Oh, and instead of saying "um" they say "erm".
Erm, RHW, you use "whilst" as well, don't you ?
Um, that's right, you live in BC.
lostranslation 022809, 12:12 AM An example I use is the formula for the area of a triangle... A+1/2bh
I can only recall it now because I can picture a rectangle split into two triangles... and I then understand where the 1/2 comes from and what it does.
Huh?
OK, don't explain, but I get what you said about needing to understand a formula or whatever to remember it. Trouble is, I can't understand it, and they didn't really teach it that way when I was in school...just rote memorization. I wonder if I might have done better with more understanding about how numbers work, cuz with me, they just don't.
Huh?
OK, don't explain, but I get what you said about needing to understand a formula or whatever to remember it. Trouble is, I can't understand it, and they didn't really teach it that way when I was in school...just rote memorization. I wonder if I might have done better with more understanding about how numbers work, cuz with me, they just don't.
I was never taught these things either... I've had to do it on my own.
It's a rare individual who actually understands my difficulties and understands what I am looking for.
For example... I was trying to understand nonlinear equations a couple of weeks ago. The actual problem was y=x^2  5.
What I needed in order to be able to understand and remember nonlinear equations, was an explanation about why an exponent other than 1 makes it nonlinear.
It seems to me that most people just say... "Well, when I see a squared number, I know it's nonlinear".
For me... you can show that to me once, and at that moment I could do a problem set up with the same factors and variables, but if I tried it a little bit later... I wouldn't remember it or if I had a problem with something different on the right side that still created a nonlinear equation.. same thing. Make sense :confused:
I went to one of the math professors at my college and tried to find out why the squaring of X on the right created a nonlinear equation.
What I got from him was this... "There is no higher meaning... it is what it is!". Meaning.. just be satisfied that whenever you see an exponent of 2, it's going to be a nonlinear equation.
For me to recall this information.. I have to have worked through it in my mind... I have to have seen the steps in my mind that show how that exponent made a difference from any other exponent.
... can you see yet, why I have a hard time finding people who can help me?...:o ;)
I realize I can be hard to understand.:rolleyes:
Anyway, my own instructor came to the rescue the next day.
She listened to me, then showed me what I was looking for.
What I got from her, helped me to visualize what was going on with that equation... once I saw the 'works' in my mind, I knew I would remember it forever! Bwahahahahahaha
Can someone let me know if any of this made sense?
I'm really curious, because I have always wondered how everything can seem so clear and logical in my mind, and even when I speak it... but the people I am talking to never seem to get it.:D
Howard_C 022809, 02:38 AM It makes sense...you want to be able to imagine the relationship as though it were occurring in your mind as a dynamic (moving) line being created through time...
As x increases the difference between x and y gets greater and greater.
Its like a car moving at a constant speed racing against a rocket that is always accelerating.
As the rocket accelerates its distance from the starting point increases at a greater rate, while the car moves at a constant rate.
If you were watching as the car raced from your left to your right and you took a photograph at equal time intervals the snapshots would represent equal intervals (or units) on the graph. For each linear increase to the right (for the car) there is a greater increase in the vertical distance (for the rocket).
If you had a sheet of clear plastic, and started at the bottom center, a single dot could show the distance from the start for each vehicle at each equal interval. The distance to the right (for that dot) represents the car. The vertical distance (for that point) represents the rocket.
A line connecting those dots would become steeper and steeper over time, as the rocket continues to accelerate.
****
The line itself doesn't represent anything except the relative value for each variable at any given point in time. Or, you can look to a coordinates for each point and determine the value of the other variable.
Or, to visualize the line...imagine you can fly and you also race these vehicles  as a third contestant.
In any interval of time you travel the distance of both vehicles. So, while the car never leaves its land based axis and the rocket moves only vertically, you can travel to the right and up at the same time. Eventually your path will become almost vertical as you approach tens of thousands of miles of altitude, while the car continues in a straight line at 55 MPH.
Okay HowardC... you were the first caller! YOu win!@
You can now be my personal oncall math tutor! FOR FREE!
I just need to know all available contact numbers, your daily schedule, and you have to agree to answer my calls by the second ring.
Isn't it grand to be a winner?:D
eta: While I can understand your example about the car and rocket ship... what actually goes through my mind can be a bit different.
I can visualize like you showed above, but I also just need to see the numbers and letters moving around in the order of execution.
I've always been told that I don't need to understand HOW they got the equation... just that it works... but those people who tell me that.. have no idea what I need!
Sometimes I do try to work a formula 'backwards' to figure out how each element functions.. I'm reverseengineering of sorts, I guess.
Not that I am always successful... but I try.
kettish 022809, 11:39 AM Hey there
Funny thing is, I was excellent in English but sucked in math courses, too. My issue wasn't dyscalcula (I don't think)rather, I could memorize numbers, keep them in sequence in my head, but I too needed a 'top down' approach. Which public school systems in America don't use very often. :P
The other issue that I realized was that I could memorize a formula, look at a problembut then have no idea when to use it! If someone said, "use this formula on problem 5," and I had done a problem like that before, I was fine. But if they handed me a sheet of paper which problems that take more than one formula, or didn't tell me which to use, OR I'd never done one like that before (damn mental leaps on tests!), I was screwed.
Almost failed high school because of those maths. I was awesome with statistics and discrete mathematics, though. I could visualize or conceptualize how it worked and therefore did well. :)
lostranslation 022809, 12:18 PM You guys are hundreds of miles over my head. I don't know what the symbols mean, what linear means, (at least in math) or any of that stuff. I can't remember my own phone number.
I still count on my fingers because I can't remember math facts. I have to have paper to subtract. I can't remember the times tables and division seems like secret language.
For me, doing almost any kind of math involves reinventing the wheel. (so to speak.) I have to start over from the perspective of a first grader and work my way up each and every time. Calculators don't help because I can't remember what I'm doing long enough to finish.
I can write in paragraph form, or make professional resumes but can't fill out a simple application. I can read a book a day, but I can't navigate the table of contents. I get lost in small buildings and while driving, even with a GPS.
See, something is seriously broken, and I don't think it's something that can be fixed. I've taken years of remedial math in adult ed places, but there is no improvement. It's frustrating and embarrassing. I've spent a lifetime hiding my disability. The shame is overpowering.
I come from a family of chemists, teachers, PHD's and MD's. My failures with numbers in that context has been devastating.
I have been harassed, laughed at, fired from jobs, and repeatedly told I needed to "try harder." This stuff is a big deal, a huge disability that no one believes. I am looked upon as a lazy and stupid, although I am neither.
Sorry about the rant...It's not about you guys...I just get so angry about all this stuff and sometimes I just need to say so.
I've taken years of remedial math in adult ed places, but there is no improvement.
Hey... this is a great place to rant... feel free!
Your comment above highlights some of the difficulty I have always faced... people do not understand what my personal issue is, and therefore have no idea how to help me.
I wonder if it is the same for you?
The shear number of people, books, videos, that I have tried would seem to allow me at least one resource that would hit upon my problem and help me out.
Not one of them did, until this one instructor of mine, this semester.
Maybe it helps that she told me she has a brother I remind her of... but he's fairly successful from what I understand.
Anyway, I have found through all my searching, over all these years... that the vast majority of 'help' available to me just did not touch upon my personal issue with math.
As I said in an earlier post... I have had to struggle on my own to come up with methods by which I could learn/retain some of this stuff.
I have not been wildly successful, but I have had enough to keep me trying.
I have no answer that will help you with your math issue, but I do hope you keep looking for that one method, or that one person, who will finally be able to it all into terms you can actually understand and remember.
After all these years... I still draw a blank with certain issues surrounding fractions.
In english, I have to recite, "I before E except after C", and even then, I come across a word that just doesn't look correct and I'm stymied.
Personally, I wouldn't count on the general application of even 'remedial' math methods to help me, so it's no surprise to me that someone else here.. you... did not find help with it either.
How do you learn the things you can recall easily?
There must be some method your brain works well with in order for you to learn other things in your life.
Perhaps by analyzing your own self, you may come up with an idea that will help you with math.
Rest assured, I am not saying everyone in the world can do math... I wouldn't know that.
I'm just saying that you should try more unconventional ways since it appears the conventional ways you have tried.. have failed you.
Remember.. YOU HAVE NOT FAILED THEM... THEY HAVE FAILED YOU!
You are not a servant to math... it is a servant to you!.:D
lostranslation 030109, 07:36 PM people do not understand what my personal issue is, and therefore have no idea how to help me.
Heh, I don't even fully understand what my issue is. Part of it is lack of working memory, and another part is being unable to visualize numbers. (or letters, for that matter. I can't spell out loud, I have to see it.)
Anyway, math is a huge issue for me and it always has been, and it was always what had been focused on in school. So, for now, I think I'll just focus on the stuff I'm good at.:)
Crackerjack 030109, 10:49 PM I had the same issues in elementary school, jr high, high school, and college. What made it worse was I couldn't use a calculator to help me out on tests because the math teachers considered it cheating. But I can use one in the "real world" to help me figure numbers out.
Right.
Don't know what to suggest. I was so bad with formulas, nothing stuck for long. I had a tutor in high school who had a way of showing me things so I could actually remember how to do something mathwise for 24 hours. It was so long ago, though, I don't remember what he did.
Oddly enough, after I got out of school I had less of a problem transposing numbers.
Richard Branson has the same problem. This is what I wrote about him in another thread:
"I read Branson's autobiography and he said he was dyslexic and dyscalculic. Struggled in school and barely passed or outright failed most of his classes. Some of his teachers see him try hard, but basically say he'll never be able to figure things out.
So he gets an idea to start up a business (he tried several, actually). To start up a business one needs a business plan, so he wrote one up including the financials. The plan made complete sense.
He realized he was actually able to figure out numbers quite well as long as there was a real world application to them, and not one of those "Train A leaves the station at 34 mph and Train B leaves the other station at 12 mph..." or figuring out the pi of whatever.
One of the things he laments is how many other children are told by their teachers/parents/whoever that they won't amount to anything because their grades are bad or because they can't grasp certain concepts, when in reality, they probably have a better shot than they think if they found another way to learn things."

