If you’ve never heard of Dyscalculia, or what it is, then this proves my point that a serious learning condition is being overlooked.

In 2021, Matt Hancock brought the Dyslexia screening bill to Parliament. This was regarded by many as a moment of progress. His aim was for Primary Schools across the UK to introduce dyslexia screening for all pupils.

For the 6.3 million people across the UK who struggle with dyslexia, it’s likely to be much easier to find spaces, support groups and accessible education. However, amidst all of this positive progress, there remains a growing problem within the education system. Dyscalculia is a lesser-known learning disability that affects one’s ability to understand numbers and develop numerical skills.

Dyscalculia still in the dark

Dyscalculics are aware that there is a worrying lack of awareness and a harder experience for young people with the condition. It’s time we changed this.

One in 20 people in the UK struggles with dyscalculia. However, there are currently no statistics on the number that go undiagnosed.

Where dyscalculia is now is where dyslexia was ten years ago. So why is there such a horrible lack of awareness in our society, despite the progress in educational accessibility?

Reflecting on my own experience with maths through school, I found it very boring from the start (and so did many of my peers) so, it’s no surprise that by the time my struggle with maths became apparent to others, I was told it was because I wasn’t working hard enough. Maths is a subject that many of my classmates dislike, and consider its arrival with much apprehension.

Maths is considered a subject that kids are likely to struggle with. But does this take away from the idea that a learning disability could be behind maths anxiety for quite a few students?

While the Dyslexia screening bill is intended to help teachers notice early tell-tale signs, when it comes to dyscalculia, one serious barrier is that the symptoms are barely noticeable at primary-school age. Aside from the fact that I was the only one who couldn’t read a clock and the only one who was still confused by division and multiplication, there were no red-flag indicators that these were no ordinary learning bumps.

All about the Maths

At the start of a child’s education, mathematics is more simple. The focus is on the basics and the numbers are small. Students don’t learn multi-step concepts such as decimals, percentages and simplifying (topics dyscalculics commonly struggle with) until much later. In the beginning, all children seem to struggle a little with maths but most of them will overcome that.

In the case of dyslexia, though there are still issues with early diagnosis, literacy-related symptoms seem to be easier to identify as children with this condition appear to fall behind more quickly.

In the words of Dyscalculia Blog (a page for Dyscalculic support and information):

‘… since number sense in younger children is not yet sufficiently stable, the diagnosis of dyscalculia is often made much later in school life’.

Taking these factors into account, it is no surprise that students with dyscalculia consistently fall behind and struggle throughout their time in education. Reform is desperately needed, and we can all be a part of this.

The education system is once again failing students with learning disabilities, and getting away with it.

If we continue to fight for accessibility and support in education, a dyscalculia screening bill could be closer than we think.

We have seen what progress can be made when people pull together to raise awareness. The time is now, to stand with those with Dyscalculia and strive for change.

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