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  1. #1

    Default Dyscalculia/math processing disorders/anybody else?

    I'm a college student. Today I had a math exam. I spent 8 hours studying for it today alone. I cannot possibly have gotten more than a 50% on it.

    This isn't new. I've had trouble with remembering mathematical formulae since I was a kid. It took me a long time to memorize my times tables. Remembering equations, and remembering when to use what when, has always been a problem. In middle and high school I was generally sorted into GT or honors math classes along with my GT language classes, but I never managed a grade above a C. I am in my 20's and I still turn left when someone tells me to go right. If you want me to turn left, point the way you want me to go. I routinely forget to carry numbers or flip signs. Don't ask me to remember your phone number- if you tell me it's 833, I'll write it down 838 or 338 or 388 and you'll have to really rub my nose in it before I notice it's wrong. (I only know what I'm typing now because 3 is on the other side of the keyboard.)

    I've suspected since middle school that something isn't quite 'right' with however I'm processing mathematical information. Not necessarily arithmetic- I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide- but mathematical applications. But I've always been "too smart" to have something wrong so I'm not working hard enough. I am smart. My language abilities are great. I scored an 800 on the writing portion of the SATs and a 770 on whatever you call the non-writing-but-still-English-language-related section. I'm a reasonably competent programmer, as long as I remember that the { key is on that side of the } key, so { is the one I use first. You can hand me a brain and I can label and dissect it for you. Maybe I should start saying y = m(Broca's area) + b instead of x.

    I want a diagnostic measure. I want a label to wear as armor for days like this when I seriously doubt my own intellect. I don't think I'm stupid in general, but I just might be stupid at math.


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  2. #2
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    I have to laugh as I am dyslexic and was an air traffic controller.... just learned never to think about the numbers, never killed any one or crashed any aircraft

    As for math, I like you excelled in math in high school and really had no problems in college... actually have a dual major in finance and management with a minor in accounting... I believe all the tricks that I had taught myself to cope gave me a special insight as I can scan over a balance sheet and find errors

    As a note most dyslexic people are smarter than the average person



  3. #3
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    What if you're just bad at math?

    Seriously, not everything is a processing disorder or a diagnosis. I'm not good at advanced math (ie anything beyond basic algebra.) I can study, I can have a full tenured professor repeat the lectures slower using smaller words (the only way I got through calculus in college), but I simply do not get it on some level. I score off the scale on linguistic skills and writing and general liberal arts stuff, I have an abnormal (for a girl) high score for spatial awareness/manipulation, but if you ask me to do a differential equation we're going to be here a long, long time. Meanwhile, my brother has never had any knack learning foreign languages (I took two in high school and would have taken three if Mom had let me) but while he's not an engineer he's much, much better than me at math.

    Not being a genius at everything you study does not mean you're stupid, or that you have a disorder. My math professor did not think I was stupid. I would not have gotten into that school were I stupid. He just thought I had absolutely no aptitude for math and didn't think there was any reason for me to kill myself trying to learn it out of sheer cussedness.


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  4. #4
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    Mar. 11, 2011
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    I wish I could offer you more than this, but I had a professor in college who had the same difficulties you do. Numbers were her kryptonite. She'd always ask me for my phone number or class number and then say, "no, wait, write it down, I won't be able to copy the numbers right."

    As far as I know, she's never sought any help for it. She recognizes it as a problem, says it's dyslexia with numbers. She's obviously risen above it (for the most part) since she runs the equine programme here.

    If a person can seek help for dyslexia, surely you can seek help for this?

    I always had trouble in maths when I was younger. Same as you, I could never get my multiplication tables. I still struggle with simple math, in fact. Going into college I was doing passably. My dad says it's "math anxiety." He supposes I only have trouble with it when someone is standing over my shoulder, and I can tell you that is not true. I can barely do math when I'm in a room by myself haha!

    Just know that you're not alone. Don't doubt your intellect; having a weakness in one area is nothing to be ashamed of.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    It's like anything else. We're all good in some areas, and bad in others. I am excellent in more open ended, bigger picture things, but math is NOT my strong suit. And I spend the WHOLE year using a seating chart to remember student names because I will ALWAYS get them mixed up.

    We're people, and we can't be good in everything. The trick is to KNOW your strengths and weaknesses and learn to compensate for your weaknesses as best you can. The real danger is when you can't or won't understand that you really have little ability in certain areas.



  6. #6
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    You are not alone! I have always struggled with math while easily scoring at the highest end of verbal. I'd be interested to know if certain types of math functioning are harder in general for those that struggle. In my case, I'm fairly OK with equations, through mid-Algebra I or so, unless I have to do anything related to ratios. My brain simply cannot function in that way. Ironically, in the past I've ended up having to tutor a few remedial math students at the middle school level. Sometimes it felt like the blind leading the blind!
    Mon Ogon (Mojo), black/bay 16 H TB Gelding



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    What if you're just bad at math?
    Well, yeah. No kidding.

    I grew up hearing "smart kids don't have..." and then fill in the blank with some variation of "problems like this." At this point, I want to know why this is so hard for me. I want to have something I can hold up to myself and say "This is why you suck, now work differently." Just knowing that I suck isn't the information I need. If there really is a why, and it isn't just related to "you don't work hard enough," then I can use that "why" to develop different strategies and approaches and maybe get a little better at this.



  8. #8
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    Right/left confusion is pretty common (15% of population). I think it is one of the things that drew me to riding where we think of things in terms of inside/outside - that is a lot easier for me. I only know my right from left if I look and see what hand my wedding ring is on.

    I have a similar probably with ordering/processing numbers and signs. I went to catholic school and learned multiplication skills by rote, thankfully I has a really good memory. When I learned geometry and trig, I really liked. I majored in chemistry as an undergraduate and am now in graduate school in .... math, lol. But I don't work much with numbers, I'm into topology, Gaussian curves and chirality .
    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.



  9. #9
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    Believe me, I've thought about it in myself, and been involved with accommodations for students with learning disabilities of different types. So many times there is just no answer to the question of why. It just is. Especially by the time you've reached adulthood, it's better to focus on your areas of success.

    One thing for certain, being "bad" at one specific thing, like math, doesn't make you stupid.
    Mon Ogon (Mojo), black/bay 16 H TB Gelding



  10. #10
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    Well, there ARE approaches that you can figure out that work for you. You just need to experiment. Like you said "Maybe I should start saying y = m(Broca's area) + b instead of x." Honestly, I don't know what that means because my brain doesn't work that way.

    I can't explain how you understand things because I'm not in your head, but you need to articulate that. For example, I am visual. If I SEE it, I remember it and have a picture in my head. I cannot figure out who my students are until I see their writing, then I remember it and who they are. I always picture that when I see them. Riding is a lot the same way. You need to figure out HOW you learn. I have a pretty natural feel, and it took me awhile to figure out how to explain it to people. You can't explain a feel, but you can set up a situation where a person feels it and then say "there, there, there." You can also create a lot of similes, like let your belly button be a spotlight to lead the way.

    I could not explain math to you because the only way I know how to figure it out myself is to "feel" it and work my way through. NO way could I remember equations. Figure out what kind of learner you are. Do you see things and remember? Hear them? Is it connected to movement? (Kinesthetic.) Can you remember music/songs? (I can't.)

    When I teach things, I try to involve as many learning styles as possible so that kids are speaking, writing, reading, drawing, repeating. Thing of what it is you learn well, and go through the process of figuring out HOW you do it.
    http://www.eduguide.org/library/viewarticle/2098/
    http://www.glencoe.com/ps/teachingto...pclose.phtml/7
    http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-int...ng-styles-quiz


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  11. #11
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    I had never heard of this disorder until my DD went to college and met her new best friend who has dislexia, disgrafia-she can't copy things correctly like taking notes off the board and has discalcula won't ever have math skills higher than 5 th grade. Things take her a lot more time but she gets it done and is on Deans List and tests as "highly intelligent "
    "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

    "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"



  12. #12
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    I loved math in school up through calculus (because calculus is evil). I think algebra is fun. But I have a bitch of a time with three-digit numbers. Numbers like 495 and 459 look the same to me. I will read a sign for 495 as '459' over and over before I realize that I've done it wrong. It's like my brain reads them like a monogram - first, last, middle. I have to go very slowly with numbers like that in order to get them correct (I'm really fun when reading directions on the highway...)

    I worked in a payroll office for a year after college and that job was hell for me. Those are not numbers you want to mess up...



  13. #13
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    my son and i both can come up with an answer to a math problem with no idea how we get to the answer.
    i've always assumed it was because we processed a bit differently than most.
    is there an actual name for it?
    we're both off the charts at verbal and written ability overall.

    not that you'd know it from my posts here,lol...



  14. #14
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    My daughter does. Go to your college students with disabilities department. Many colleges offer testing and you can receive extra help...time, use of a calculator etc.

    We had my daughter tested in high school. She said to multiply she had to visualize the multiplication table in her head to figure out the answer. No working memory either. You can do it...she has a 4.0.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  15. #15
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    I don't know, I think some people have a brain for math, and some do not! I have always been horrid at math, As a kid I dreaded math, no matter how much I studied I still barely passed. I can memorize all day long, but understand math, No way. I thankfully do not need it now, Can do the basics, and as long as I have a calculator!
    "you can only ride the drama llama so hard before it decides to spit in your face." ?Caffeinated.


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  16. #16
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    I too suck at math. I simply cannot process it and have realized that I will switch numbers around, much like dyslexia, only with numbers instead of letters. I could study all day long and still flunk. My mom hired tutors, to no avail. When it came to algebra...forget it. I took it several times in high school. Not sure how I finally passed it.
    I am married to a Mechanical Engineer, who just doesn't understand it. For crying out loud, he used to do our kids math problems FOR FUN!! Really?
    Thankfully, all 3 kids got their Dad's math gene...2 are engineers and the youngest is studying accounting.



  17. #17
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    OP, I have the same issues you do - it takes me a moment of concentrating to copy down numbers when people are giving them to me, etc etc etc. In math classes I would do the wrong problems assigned because I would transpose those numbers (do problems #15-53 on page 134 instead of #35-51 on page 143, for example). Or I would get the correct assignment, perform the work correctly, but would have read the problem wrong and start with 56 instead of 65, resulting in the wrong answer. Like you I was very bright and scored incredibly high (800 on the verbal back when there was only 2 parts to the SATs) in all my language classes, etc. Even science. So when my math scores/grades/etc were not up to scratch I was also accused of being careless, etc.

    I learned of dyscalculia when I was a sophomore in college and my math issues were ruining my life at the time. I wanted to be a physics major so, so badly but just couldn't pass math, and so many of my issues were for those stupid reasons (wrong numbers, having things backwards) that made everyone think I was just not applying myself. I thought about pursuing a diagnosis, but what I ended up doing instead was ultimately dropping out of college and going to farrier school, and building a life for myself that involves a lot of hard work but the ability to flip the bird to those who doubted me or told me I was lazy at that period in my life. It was a huge source of shame and stress at the time but 5+ years out the anger is finally fading, and I can say "eff 'em if they can't take a joke" with pride.

    (Maybe not what you wanted to hear, or at all practical in your case, but good luck. It really sucks!)



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lori T View Post
    I too suck at math. I simply cannot process it and have realized that I will switch numbers around, much like dyslexia, only with numbers instead of letters. I could study all day long and still flunk. My mom hired tutors, to no avail.
    You've just described me. Absolutely.

    Despite scoring in the 4th percentile on my ACT in math, I still scored a 30 overall, so there aren't issues everywhere.

    It's been incredibly frustrating and I can't figure out if I've just never had a teacher able to figure out how I learn math stuff, or if there is an actual issue there. I DO transpose numbers a LOT. Was plucked out of 3rd grade I think for backwards letters too and worked with alone for a bit and have not had an issue with letters or words since. But I literally feel ill, frustrated, mad, want to cry and throw stuff when I am posed with a math problem.

    The rest of my family ranges from mathematically fine to gifted, so...I just don't know.
    "Aye God, Woodrow..."



  19. #19
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    I say the numbers in my head and ignore the visuals, when given a telephone number, for example.
    I read this thread title as "dracula and math..blahblah" and my mind said, "yup Count Dracula" from Sesame street, he counts, that's math; it all makes sense in my mind. I can balance an equation like an idiot savant, no idea how I can do that, yet still swap numbers in a string.
    Overall it's pretty entertaining to me, just watching what my mind does :grin:


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  20. #20
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    In high school, my senior year the guidence councelor finally looked at my grades and said "I think you have a learning disability in math."

    DUH.
    I failed algebra 3x and just cannot do formulas AT ALL. My brain shuts down. I sweat. I can't even add. I have to write it down. I haven't balanced a check book in 15 years.

    I was in AP english, history and art history. Doubled up on english all through high school. I'm artistic and very right brained. Lots of common sense.

    But math is so hard because you can't see it. Nothing concrete about it. I don't get it.

    (imagine me trying to learn electric theory-Ac/dc, sine waves and what have you-in my electric course. I shut down and played on my phone).

    If you are a visual person, math is very difficult. I told my electrical instructor that I have a disability and a hard time. he said "Good, I can teach you my way".

    All he did was further confuse me, tried to teach me two methods of computing resistence/voltage and current.

    ETA-
    on the SATS I was in the 98th percentile for english.

    30 for math.



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