This Thursday is Dyscalculia Day. For those of you who don't know - My name is Nell and I have a maths disability.
Dyscalculia, a disorder which primarily effects a person's ability to work with numbers and mathematical concepts, is a virtually unknown learning disabilty. It is so little known, in fact, that World Dyscalculia Day was not started by a research institution or large non-profit advocacy group -- we dysclaculics don't have any of those in or corner (yet!). World Dyslcalculia Day is a grassroots effort by members of the Dyscalculia Forum online community. World Dyscalculia Day is as effort by dyscalculics, for dyscalculics, to educate others about this learning disability. Dyscalculia is defined by a person's difficulty with numbers and arithmetical concepts. It's estimated (by people who are good at that sort of thing) that between 4% and 6% of the world's population has dyscalculia, but that only 1% has even heard of the disorder.
People with dyscalculia struggle to perform everyday tasks, such as remembering addresses and phone numbers, figuring a tip at a restaurant, or determining exactly what that "10% OFF!" sale will get them. We tend to transpose digits (reading 67 for 76), invert digits (reading 6 for 9), or just get plain confused (3 and 8 might look like the same symbol to a dyscalculic). All that, and we haven't even talked about using numbers to do actual math!
Notice how Dyscalculia Day is on March 3rd -- 3/3? That's because it allows us to safely get the day and month confused (and we will ... we will) -- but we can't screw it up.
It isn't just 'not being good at maths' it is about a real disorder that spills over into areas of everyday life. I can't text, use a cashpoint machine, remember phone numbers or my car registration number. I can't read a digital clock and have to have a calculator where the keys and the numbers on the keys are clearly marked out in different colours so they don't blend into the background. On a bad day, I'm worse when I'm tired or stressed, I can't remember my own birthday. It affects my spatial awareness, I can't tell left from right and my job share partner is perpetually baffled and amused by my complete inability to process even simple directions or to remember my way to and from somewhere.It affects co-ordination and balance - that spatial awareness thing again.
People with dyscalculia aren't stupid - I have four professional qualifications, a string of GCSE and A levels but I can't remember a pin number for a card and frequently get dates and appointment times scrambled.
Some of the explanation above came from the Dyscalculia Forum
I'm not alone, many famous people also have dyscalculia, Cher, Mary Tyler Moore, Henry Winkler,Benjamin Franklin, and Hans Christian Anderson, even Einstein struggled with basic maths.
If you, or someone you know is dyscalculic please visit the forum and raise awareness of Dyscalculia. If it's cool for the Fonz to admit it then I can too - I'm Nell and I have dyscalculia.
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