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September 19 2014 09:48 AM

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Math disorder makes consumers easy prey
cMSNBC's Redtape Chronicles wrote up an article on dyscalculic consumers, concluding what we already know - dyscalculics without the proper education have a hard time in adult life.

"Dyscalculics often can't count change", said Professor Brian Butterworth, of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, and perhaps the world's leading dyscalculia expert.  They don't understand interest calculation or exchange rates.  By the time they become adults, they are so insecure about numbers that they frequently cede all money issues to others, a recipe for disaster. "Unfortunately, there have been no studies that I know of, looking into the vulnerability of dyscalculics as consumers," Butterworth said.  "It would be a valuable addition to this area."

On his website, MathematicalBrain.com, there's an interview with successful author Paul Moorcraft, who managed to hide his disorder from everyone until he "came out" with the problem at age 55.  He'd been making lousy business deals his whole life. “I was very successful but I couldn’t count. I kept it hidden my whole life … even counting under the table with my fingers at a board meeting,” he said.  

This fundamental failure to understand numbers can have far-reaching impacts,  Butterworth said. "Dyscalculics have trouble with PINs. They will try to use the same easy to remember PIN for all their accounts, or write it down. This makes them vulnerable," he said.  "If you know you have trouble with numbers, you will entrust your numerical affairs to someone else, and this can also make you vulnerable."

Researchers around the world have just begun to study the impact of the broader problem of financial literacy on the performance of a nation's economy. A 2005 study in the U.K. found that consumers with low numeracy skills earn less, spend less, get sick more and are more than likely to have run-ins with the law.  Low numeracy rates cost the U.K. almost $4 billion annually, Butterworth estimates.

It has been estimated that we encounter more than a thousand numbers an hour. From speed limits to page numbers and the price of bread to the billions transferred to the banks, numbers provide a backdrop to daily life that most people process without effort. But when you have dyscalculia, a condition that impairs the ability to understand numbers, everyday tasks can present a real challenge.

Adults who think they might suffer from dyscalculia should be tested by a professional. Adult consumers who fear they might be taken advantage of in their everyday life can learn to work more confidently with a calculator, and would do well to bring trusted friends with them for major transactions, such as buying a car or buying a home. “There’s no cure, but there are coping mechanisms,” Moorcraft said.

Read the full article on msnbc, and discuss it here.
· Admin on 08.10.11 - 03:10 AM · Print
Dyscalculia in Fiction
Images: 9504200.jpgTwo new books for children and teenagers are featuring dyscalculic characters as their main characters - Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin --- and The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine. Dyscalculic characters in fictional litterature is not something we have encountered before - it's great to see sudden progress.

In Girl Wonder, the main character Charlotte is diagnosed with dyscalculia. She is a bright girl, but her struggles with numbers keep her from getting into her school's gifted and talented program - she, in turn, feels ungifted and untalented. Dyscalculia greatly affects Charlotte's self-esteem and how she pervcieves herself. She also has a younger brother who's something of genius, whom she compares herself to unfavorably. The author says, "I draw firsthand on some of my own struggles with having a learning disability that affected me in both math and writing. It wasn't until I went to graduate school that I truly began to know my own intelligence. I would recommended it to anyone who has ever doubted themselves in any way."

Images: theabsolutevalueofmike.jpgThe main character of the book The Absolute Value of Mike, by Kathryn Erskine, is the son of a brilliant absent-minded mathematician. Although Mike's father is a mathematician, Mike suffers from dyscalculia. Mike's father wants him to become an engineer, a career which requires a lot of math. Mike does not want to disappoint his father, but he struggles with math because of his dyscalculia. He doesn't know how to tell his father that he does not want to be an engineer.
· Admin on 08.10.11 - 03:10 AM · Print
A Teacher's Perspective of Dyscalculia
In this video you get a quick introduction to dyscalculia. Dyscalculics, parents and professionals can easily benifit from watching.

· Admin on 08.10.11 - 03:10 AM · Print
Spread The Word
fDid you know that we're also on facebook, twitter, tumblr, google+ and myspace? Come talk with other members on our facebook page, send us a tweet, make awesome tumblr posts about dyscalculia that we can reblog, or friend us on myspace. The Dyscalculia Forum exists to have a place where you can find support, but also to spread the word - and it's easy for you to do that through social media. Do you use a community we're not using yet? Let us know, and we'll come join you.
· Admin on 08.10.11 - 03:09 AM · Print
Dyscalculia: From Brain to Education
Science Daily: Students who struggle to learn mathematics may have a neurocognitive disorder that inhibits the acquisition of basic numerical and arithmetic concepts, according to a new paper. Specialised teaching for individuals with dyscalculia, the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, should be made widely available in mainstream education, according to a review of current research published in the journal Science.

Although just as common as dyslexia, with an estimated prevalence of up to 7% of the population, dyscalculia has been neglected as a disorder of cognitive development. However, a world-wide effort by scientists and educators has established the essential neural network that supports arithmetic, and revealed abnormalities in this network in the brains of dyscalulic learners.

 

Neuroscience research shows what kind of help is most needed -- strengthening simple number concepts. This can be achieved with appropriate specially-designed teaching schemes, which can be supported by game-like software that adapts to the learner's current level of competence. Professor Brian Butterworth, co-author of the paper and a member of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience (CEN) from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: "Dyscalculia is at least as much of a handicap for individuals as dyslexia and a very heavy burden on the state, with the estimated cost to the UK of low numeracy standing at £2.4 billion."

 

"Nevertheless, there are only cursory references to the disorder on the Department of Education website -- no indications are offered for help either for learners, teachers or parents. It's as if the government does not want to acknowledge its existence."

 

Read the full article and join the discussion here.

· Admin on 08.10.11 - 03:09 AM · Print