URL of this page: //medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001534.htm

Mathematics disorder

Mathematics disorder is a condition in which a child's math ability is far below normal for their age, intelligence, and education.

Causes

Children who have mathematics disorder have trouble with simple mathematical equations, such as counting and adding.

Mathematical disorder may appear with:

Symptoms

The child may have trouble with math, as well as low scores in math classes and on tests.

Problems the child may have are:

  • Trouble with reading, writing, and copying numbers
  • Problems counting and adding numbers, often making simple mistakes
  • Hard time telling the difference between adding and subtracting
  • Problems understanding math symbols and word problems
  • Can't line up numbers properly to add, subtract, or multiply
  • Can't arrange numbers from smallest to largest, or the opposite
  • Can't understand graphs

Exams and Tests

Standardized tests can assess the child's math ability. Grades and class performance can also help.

Treatment

The best treatment is special (remedial) education. Computer-based programs may also help.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Early intervention improves the chances of a better outcome.

Possible Complications

The child may have problems in school, including behavior problems and loss of self-esteem. Some children with mathematics disorder become anxious or afraid when given math problems, making the problem even worse.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have any concerns about your child's development.

Prevention

Recognizing the problem early is important. Treatment may begin as early as kindergarten or elementary school.

Alternative Names

Developmental dyscalculia

References

Grajo LC, Guzman J, Szklut SE, Philibert DB. Learning disabilities and developmental coordination disorder. In: Lazaro RT, Reina-Guerra SG, Quiben MU, eds. Umphred's Neurological Rehabilitation. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 12.

Kelly DP, Natale MJ. Neurodevelopmental and executive function and dysfunction. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 48.

Nass R, Sidhu R, Ross G. Autism and other developmental disabilities. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 90.

Rapin I. Dyscalculia and the calculating brain. Pediatr Neurol. 2016;61:11-20. PMID: 27515455 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27515455/.

Review Date 3/25/2020

Updated by: Charles I. Schwartz, MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.