It is known that individuals diagnosed with dyslexia experience difficulties with a variety of language skills; but do all individuals with dyslexia have difficulty with mathematics? Although dyslexia can have an effect on learning math concepts, not all students with dyslexia will struggle. However, research does suggest that dyslexic students may not always conform to typical teaching strategies when it comes to learning math concepts.
When learning math, students require strong information processing skills. The dyslexic student may have difficulties with attention, visual-spatial processing, sequential memory, efficient retrieval/recall of math facts or difficulties with immediate memory.
Students diagnosed with dyslexia can often see the “big picture” when it comes to learning a number of math skills; however, they may demonstrate difficulty because they are inattentive to the details. Tasks such as aligning numbers when solving equations, recognizing patterns, sequencing steps and transposing digits are only a few of the barriers that may influence math performance.
A Few Helpful Strategies
- Use multi-sensory methods of instruction (manipulatives, calculators, multimedia, etc.)
- Create a step by step procedure card for solving different types of equations, which includes models and examples.
- Ensure that the child has mastered a concept before moving on to new information.
- Consider eliminating timed tests that measure rapid retrieval of math facts.
- Use graph paper when solving equations to help maintain place value.