Specific Learning Disorder in Mathematics

Under new diagnostic criteria (DSM-V), Dyscalculia is now referred under the umbrella term of Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with an impairment in Mathematics. Diagnosis of any SLD is followed by a description of the specific area(s) of impairment a child presents with, and is established through a clinical evaluation of the individual’s developmental, medical, educational, and family history, analysis of test measures and clinical observations. Learning difficulties cannot be better accounted for by intellectual disabilities, trouble with visual or auditory acuity, other neurological disorders & psychosocial adversity among others. SLD with an impairment in Mathematics, sometimes referred to as ‘number blindness’ (Butterworth, 2003) is a neurological condition that hinders an individual’s ability to understand, learn and execute number-based and mathematical concepts. Given effort and lots of practice, children with mathematical impairments may know what to do when solving a maths problem, however they continue to struggle in grasping the logic behind the steps they have to take in order to solve a problem. Dyscalculia affects various areas of math learning and performance and in turn creates different challenges for every child.

A prominent, and arguably defining, difficulty that these children face is with ‘number sense’. This refers to an intuitive understanding of how numbers interact, of symbolic representation and how they compare and quantify on a number line – essentially harnessing a fluidity and flexibility with numbers. In order to be classified as SLD with an impairment in Mathematics, the various struggles faced must be evident during formal years of schooling, classified to be well below the expected age average, and must significantly impede on academic achievement, occupational performance and daily living.
It is important to note that with SLD, there is a notable discrepancy between ability and aptitude – a child with dyscalculia would typically perform well in other school subjects such as English and Humeuaronpietaienfsam, ihlytohewraepyv.eur fall short in math and math-related subjects.

For information on psycho-educational and academic assessments, please visit our Assessment Services page.

For more information on SLD in Mathematics (Dyscalculia), please refer to our information sheet below:


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