Kiwi dyscalculics speak out!

I've been contacted by many kiwi adults who suffer from dyscalculia. Here are some of their descriptions of their experiences with it:

“I have always had difficulty with simple addition and subtraction since young, always still have to ‘count on my fingers quickly’ e.g. 5+7 without anyone knowing. Similar to adding coins up I have to ‘count it out loud in my head’ So maybe I don’t have that memory recall of simple numbers. Sometimes I feel very embarrassed! Especially under pressure I just panic.”

“Since childhood I have always struggled with Maths and numbers. I am currently 28 and I can do my timetables to 3 (just), it takes me years to add or subtract in my head or on paper, have a lot of difficultly telling the time and remembering dates. I can really relate to being flustered when asked to add or subtract in public e.g. splitting a bill is my worst nightmare. What has always surprised me is no matter how hard I work on my number skills the benefits are very short lived and I am back to a low level within weeks.”

“I must admit to being relieved to find there actually is a name for my lifelong inability of my incomprehension when working with figures. And at 52 years of age, I have felt at times quite stupid, when I see on TV or a movie where someone is asked to count backwards by 9 from 100, I would fail miserably. I can multiply, understand percentages and in my last profession I had to work with measurements, which is not a problem. I cannot add, subtract or divide.”

“I struggled through school with maths to the point the teachers gave up on me. For years I have told people if there was a condition like dyslexia with numbers I had it, they always laughed, suggesting I was just dumb with numbers. I can only count on my fingers or with a calculator. I can't count out change, no matter how small and often get flustered with any tasks involving numbers. Despite trying hard I could never remember my 'times tables'. Division etc just bewildered me totally. English was one of my best subjects at school.”

“I'm 37 years old and have struggled with mathematics and numbers all of my life, from the basics of dialling a phone to seemingly simple addition and subtraction. I've had various teachers and tutors over the years who have made huge efforts to help me 'get it', to no avail. I have no trouble whatsoever reading or writing, understanding literary concepts and theories etc., but spend an hour sitting in the bank trying to work out how much money is in my cheque account! Last year I returned to University, attempting to avoid any papers containing mathematics, but hidden in nearly everything are formulas and calculations. This is a huge problem in my life. Lecturers and tutors advise me to get extra help, if only it was that easy.”

“I have been saying for a long time that I am dyslexic with numbers not realising that dyscalculia actually existed. I have always struggled with maths and particularly with mathematical problems. As a child I had great difficulty learning to tell the time, and I was always the bottom of the class in maths. Algebra was a foreign language to me after the first couple of lessons. I dropped out of maths after the fourth form despite my parents getting me special tuition. I often reverse numbers, particularly fives and sevens. I am really good with words and love writing. I grew up thinking I was dumb, as did most of those who knew me, but part of me knew that was not true, and I now have a Bachelor degree. I struggle to follow the financial statement the treasurer presents each month but I’m working on it.”

“I remember the teacher, a family friend, coming around at night in an attempt to give me extra tuition - to no avail. He finally suggested I should just read a book while the rest of the class did maths. This was at standard 3-4 level so I would have been about 8 or 9 years old. My maths has never got past that point. I do not have any trouble reading, in fact I excel at reading, spelling, debating etc.
I cannot tell the difference between larger and smaller numbers without having to think about it and can't work out how many 0's need to go on the end of 100, 1000, 10000 etc. If presented with the number 12,689 and asked to read it, I would have to slowly work out whether it started with a hundred or a thousand etc. When we were first married, I would have to ask my husband "If 1kg of Weetbix is $X and 750g is $Y, which is cheapest?" He decided a calculator was the answer and then looked totally flabbergasted when I then confessed I had no idea what to put in it to get the answer required! I also have trouble adding or removing GST so he does our company accounts. I have never filled out my own tax forms as the questions were always meaningless to me. I still can't use a calculator unless it is simple addition or subtraction. I have spatial difficulties and have trouble calculating distance so am careful when driving. I do not have attention span difficulties or short term memory loss.”