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About Dyscalculia

What is Dyscalculia?


Brian Butterworth (2019) says: “Developmental Dyscalculia is due to a core deficit in the ‘domain specific cognitive abilities’ – that is, those capabilities that are specific to processing numbers.”

SASC (SpLD Assessments Standards Committee) 2019 New Guidance on Dyscalculia states

‘Dyscalculia is a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics. It will be unexpected in relation to age, level of education and experience and occurs across all ages and abilities.

Mathematics difficulties are best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and they have many causal factors. Dyscalculia falls at one end of the spectrum and will be distinguishable from other maths issues due to the severity of difficulties with number sense, including subitising, symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude comparison, and ordering. It can occur singly but often co occurs with other specific learning difficulties, mathematics anxiety and medical conditions’.

The British Dyslexia Association describe Dyscalculia as: “A specific learning disorder that is characterised by impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numerical magnitude and performing fluent calculations. These difficulties must be quantifiably below what is expected for an individual’s chronological age, and must not be caused by poor education or daily activities or by intellectual impairments.”

How do you know if you, your child or your student has Dyscalculia or Numeracy Difficulties?



Jane Emerson and Patricia Babtie in their book ‘Understanding Dyscalculia and Numeracy Difficulties’ provide this helpful list of Indicators of Dyscalculia of Numeracy difficulties:

  • Inability to subitize (recognise up to 4 or 5 counters without counting)
  • Counting errors
  • Miscounting objects
  • Lack of one-one correspondence
  • Sequencing errors
  • Inability to count backwards
  • Not understanding the count 70, 80, 90, 20, 21 / 48, 49, 51, 52
  • Calculation difficulties
  • Persistent counting in 1s
  • Cannot remember number facts
  • Uses unstructured dots or makes tally marks to do calculations
  • Difficulty with mental arithmetic
  • Cannot remember times tables facts
  • Misunderstanding of maths language
  • Errors writing numbers
  • Reversing digits
  • Not understanding zero as a place holder
  • Inaccurate estimations
  • Inability to recognise if an answer is reasonable
  • Weak reasoning e.g.. inability to see number relationships
  • Weak at making connections e.g. 4 + 4 = 8 therefore 14 + 4 = 18
  • Problems with money and time
  • Lack of place value understanding
  • Errors when completing formal calculations

If you recognise several of these indicators in your child, yourself or a student then contact one of our listed specialist Dyscalculia Assessors or a Dyscalculia Specialist Educational Psychologist who will be able to assess you/your child/ your student and offer advice on the best way forward.


Research and analysis

Specific Learning Difficulties: current understanding, support systems, and technology-led interventions.

(12th October 2020):  A really important article on Dyscalculia and other SpLd published by the Government office for Science.

Review 4: The role of science and technology in improving outcomes for the case of Dyscalculia by Diana Laurillard and Brian Butterworth.

Bruern Abbey School