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Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, DCD, and Dyspraxia

“I don’t want anyone to ever say that I don’t belong where I am.” – Daniel Radcliffe, actor with dyspraxia

Most people are familiar with dyslexia, as it is often heard in the media and has a strong research basis, but conditions such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia, developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and dyspraxia are far less commonly discussed. As they are much less known, learning differences such as dyscalculia, dysgraphia, DCD, and dyspraxia are also far less understood. Recognizing these challenges and their symptoms is imperative to increasing awareness and providing early intervention, and treatment. 

Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is characterized by a difficulty in math or math-related exercises and tasks. This condition is sometimes referred to as math dyslexia or number dyslexia, though dyscalculia and dyslexia are vastly different conditions. Children with dyscalculia often struggle to remember facts about numbers or math in general. For example, a child may know the word “four” but not be able to connect it to the numeral “4.” In some cases, children with dyscalculia may have trouble remembering numbers in their head, which makes it difficult to perform multiple step math problems. Dyscalculia can also affect a child’s ability to understand and apply number concepts such as “greater than” or “less than.” 

Though various professionals can make life with dyscalculia more manageable, there is no specific treatment or medication for this condition. An accredited learning center can provide the necessary explicit and multisensory instruction to support the child through a systematic approach. This includes cumulative lesson plans and the use of visual aids and other accommodations to improve focus and comprehension in a smaller classroom setting. Early intervention and adequate instruction can help to limit the negative effects of dyscalculia.   

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a learning challenge that impacts a child’s ability to write, type, and spell. Children with dysgraphia have to focus excessively on transcription (the basic writing skill that involves written production of letters and words), which inhibits their ability to express themselves or convey cohesive thoughts on paper. Impaired handwriting can interfere with a student’s ability to accurately and efficiently write letters, numbers, and words. 

Early observation and identification is key to helping a child overcome the difficulties associated with dysgraphia. Handwriting is not simply a motor skill, so coordinated intervention between professionals, such as a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist and a learning specialist, is one of the most beneficial methods of treatment for this condition. Additionally, early literacy programs from a school for learning differences can help provide the necessary explicit, systematic and multisensory instruction to learn how to write with dysgraphia.

Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and Dyspraxia

DCD and dyspraxia are terms used interchangeably to describe a general difficulty or inability to effectively use motor abilities in a range of environments. DCD often occurs with other conditions as it’s classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder, like ADHD. Children with DCD or dyspraxia struggle with fine motor skills such as balance, agility, writing, learning new movements, or predicting the effects of their movements, which may make life inside and outside of school very difficult. These conditions are often identified by a general clumsiness above the perceived average for people of a similar age. 

After diagnosis and assessment, an occupational therapist can help a child manage the symptoms of DCD or dyspraxia and work with them to mitigate the condition. Physical therapists can also help with muscle toning and coordination development. Additionally, children with DCD or dyspraxia may benefit from multisensory tutoring strategies from a speech language pathologist to improve handwriting and other fine motor skills necessary for daily activities and education. 

How Hill Learning Center Can Help

We can make a difference. Hill Learning Center is dedicated to transforming students with learning differences and attention challenges into confident, independent learners. Contact us if you’re interested in taking the next step.

Source: Dyspraxia Foundation, NCBI, NIH, Understood

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