Understanding Dysnumeracy (or Dyscalculia)

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 14th Jun 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Self Help

Explaining what Dysnumeracy (also known as Dyscalculia) is and its effects on the brain


There's been a lot of information about Dyslexia over the past two decades. The idea that some people have difficulty in reading and writing has pretty much been dealt with by spell checkers and other aids which (including a Scrabble Cheat) can have the average person who spells his own name wrong seeming to be University literate.

Most people don't know what Dysnumeracy/Dyscalculia is and think it's a joke of the kind one expects in the Daily Onion.

It isn't.


I was always bad at math. If it wasn't for corruption I'd still be in High School. Not only couldn't I 'get' the basics, but I have been given all sorts of 'helpful' texts which I have diligently studied. And by the time I reach the third chapter I have no idea what the previous two contained.

I assumed I was just 'bad' at Math until the last time I tried to write a cheque.

My bank manager called me in, and she was flanked by the senior loans officer and a few other important people.

As I raged about the validity of the cheque, (I had made it out for Twenty thousand although the bill was for something like Eighteen Thousand six hundred and thirty one Dollars, because I knew I would never get the numbers and letters to match).

Yet it bounced.

The Bank team handed me the cheque and I saw nothing wrong with it. I read, reread it, and saw nothing wrong with it.

It was pointed out to me that the date I had written was May 11, 1849.

I ceased to write cheques.


Wikipedia defines;
Dyscalculia (or maths disability) is a specific learning disability
involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic.
It is akin to dyslexia and includes difficulty in understanding numbers,
learning how to manipulate numbers, learning maths facts, and a
number of other related symptoms....
...cognitive psychologists as a more fundamental inability to
conceptualize numbers as abstract concepts of comparative
quantities (a deficit in "number sense"), which these researchers
consider to be a foundational skill, upon which other maths
abilities build.

What it usually means

Persons who are dysnumerate will have problems with;

a) arithmetic
b) reading analog clocks
c) financial planning or budgeting,
d) estimating the cost of items in a shopping cart
e) difficulty conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time.
f) differentiating between left and right
g) difficulty reading musical notation
h) unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences

How to deal with it

People who can't use numbers resort to logic.

Dysnumerate people are almost never involved in Ponzi schemes or invest in entities like Facebook. As they can't get 'percentages' 'returns' 'yields' 'projections' and the usual gibberish, they can only think; "this doesn't make sense" and pass.

Working out problems with logic often leads to the right answer because of the concept.

For example, just about every one (except dysnumerates) can create a simple equation. Being unable to do the a over b times c divided by d they have to talk it out.

Hence in the typical; "A floor is ten feet long, a wall is five feet high, how long a plank does one need to go from the end of the floor to the rest on top of the wall?"

A dysnumerate is going to visual the wall and the floor and the plank and see that when the plank is lifted there would be space and guess that making the plank six inches longer would work.

Sure the answer probably isn't right, there has got to be all kinds of .0 somebody to mess it up, but in real life, it would work and the person who was actually building something like this would take a saw and cut off the stick out piece.


As you can see from my cheque disaster, I would tend to overwrite the sum so that the other side would owe me, and send the rebate, (they are getting paid, so can work out the numbers).

When it comes to counting money, I never make a mistake. This is because it takes me so long to do it, and I have to break it down into small piles that it is beyond question.

Calculators aren't that helpful because I could always enter 1,383,218 as 1,838,281 and never notice. So, I tell people to get Manager's cheques for the sum, which I get the clerk to write down on a piece of paper.

In this way I can never steal, misplace or misappropriate a cheque which isn't made out to me but to some agency.

Further, being painfully aware I can't do math in any form I can often translate what should be an equations into a concept which I can explain easily.


Adding, Brain, Dyslexia, Dysnumerate, Logic, Numbers, Reading

Meet the author

author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

Share this page

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Peter B. Giblett
14th Jun 2012 (#)

Thank you for a good article.

Sadly not enough information is provided about dyslexia and its associated conditions. People need to take dyslexia seriously; particularly those involved in children's education.

Firstly let me correct you assuming that spellcheckers are the answer to dyslexia is incorrect. Having educated a dyslexic son, through a specialist private school in the United Kingdom I do know that most public education authorities are not competent in dealing with the problem. My son's school had dyslexic, dysnumerate, and dyspraxic children in attendance. It is time to take dyslexia seriously.

Reply to this comment

author avatar kaylar
15th Jun 2012 (#)

My best friend is totally dyslexic. He would have my secretary write his cheques and we had to make sure he spelled his name correctly.
However, with spell checkers, (and his Scrabble Cheat) he write perfectly.
Dyslexic/dysnumerate people are often quite brilliant and think and see things differently.

In the psychological problem I posted on Wikinut, when it came to the answers, my Dyslexic friend was the only person out of hundreds who realised that Freud wrote it.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
15th Jun 2012 (#)

Thank you kaylar for this informative article.

Reply to this comment

author avatar kaylar
15th Jun 2012 (#)

you ar very welcome Pradeep

Reply to this comment

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
15th Jun 2012 (#)

Yup, I think a lot of people mix up numbers and are not aware that it can be a real problem.

Reply to this comment

author avatar kaylar
15th Jun 2012 (#)

especially when you don't realise it

Reply to this comment

author avatar CaptainConway
13th Dec 2012 (#)

This article is great, I've just been looking for more information about this for ages. It's no wonder I never did very well at maths.
I'm so glad it's not just me who has been dealing with this without knowing or understanding it at all.

Reply to this comment

author avatar kaylar
31st Jul 2013 (#)

I didn't realise it until the cheque fiasco. It is real...it's not just 'bad at math' or not working hard enough.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?