What is Dyscalculia? 

Dyscalculia is defined as a failure to achieve in mathematics commensurate with chronological age, normal intelligence, and adequate instruction. It is marked by difficulties with visualization;  visual-spatial perception, processing and discrimination; counting;  pattern recognition;  sequential memory;  working-memory for numbers;  retrieval of learned facts and procedures; directional confusion; quantitative processing speed;  kinesthetic sequences;  and perception of time.

Terms for Dyscalculia

(1) Specific Learning Disability / Disorder in Mathematics (SLD-Math) 
(2) Math Learning Disability (MLD)
(3) Developmental Dyscalculia (DD)
(4) Acalculia
(6) Math Dyslexia
(7) Math Anxiety
(8) Numerical Impairment
(9) Number Agnosia
(10) Nonverbal Learning Disorder / Disability (NLD)

Learn about Dyscalculia

The Dyscalculia Syndrome, a paper by Renee M. Newman (1998).

Math Learning Disabilities, a paper by Kate Garnett, PhD (1998).

Diagnosing Dyscalculia 

Fix Dyscalculia

College & Dyscalculia

Voices of Dyscalculia

K-12 Schools and Dyscalculia

Defining Learning Disabilities and Dyscalculia


Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) in Mathematics, Reading, and Written Expression are defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. SLD is defined as a "Specific Learning Disorder-- with impairment in Mathematics (315.1), Reading (315.0), or Written Expression (315.2). SLD is "a neurodevelopmental disorder of biological origin manifested in learning difficulties and problems in acquiring academic skills markedly below age level and manifested in the early school years, lasting for at least 6 months, not attributed to intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, or neurological or motor disorders." 


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines Specific Learning Disability (SLD) as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.  See more at 34 CFR 300.8 (10).

Section 504 and ADAAA

Civil Rights for the Disabled (Learning and otherwise): According to the  US Department of Education,  the  Federal Office of Civil  Rights  (OCR)  enforces  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973  and  Title  II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990  which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.    The law states that  "no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or her disability, be excluded from the  participation  in,  be  denied  the  benefits  of,  or  be  subjected  to  discrimination  under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."  

Dyscalculia + College and Disability Law

Postsecondary institutions are required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure they do not discriminate on the basis of disability. Students must voluntarily identify themselves as having a disability and furnish any documentation required. Failure to provide auxiliary aids to disabled students that results in a denial of a program benefit is discriminatory and prohibited.  No aid or service will be used unless it is successful in equalizing the opportunity for a particular student with a disability to participate in the education program or activity. The nature of the disability and individual needs dictate appropriate academic adjustments.    

Academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids and services, as well as modifications to academic requirements as necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity.  Examples include priority registration;  course substitution; reducing a course load;  providing note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing,  TTY  telephones; equipping school computers with screen-reading, voice recognition or other adaptive software or hardware. 

In providing an academic adjustment, the school is not required to lower or substantially modify essential requirements.    Although the school may provide extended testing time,  it is not required to change the substantive content of the test.    In addition, the school does not have to make adjustments that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity or that would result in an undue financial or administrative burden.  

Finally, the postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing. When requesting a specific academic adjustment, the school may offer an academic adjustment or offer an effective alternative.  

The school may also conduct its own evaluation of a student's disability and needs at its own expense.  

Math: In the case of documented math learning disability that substantially interferes with the ability to complete a required mathematics course, the college may elect to waive the basic college math requirement for liberal arts majors and substitute it with another course.   For further guidance from the Association on Higher Education and Disability, see the Mathematics Course Waivers, Best Practices Presentation  (2008)  given by the director of Brigham Young University's Accessibility Center. 

For more information on appropriate accommodations for learning disabilities in college,  see  The Association on Higher Education and Disability  (www.ahead.org),  and  Yale  University's Center for Dyslexia & Creativity's Policy and Advocacy section, specifically dyslexia.yale.edu/Policy_YCDC.html