Maths and Dyspraxia
Every child who is assessed to have Dyspraxia is unique in his or her own way. Difficulties that one particular child may have may not be the same as what the next child has to face.
If a child has dyspraxia, it means that he will in all possibility face difficulty with the skills that are needed for calculating and using numbers, and for using maps in everyday life.
These difficulties - in relation to arithmetic, will be seen in the form of;
- Memorizing, for example multiplication tables.
- Learning how to apply rules.
- Sequencing, for example remembering the order in which things should be done.
- Sitting in class and copying from the blackboard.
- Copying quickly and in the correct format.
- And not being able to call on his fine motor skills in a fluid manner resulting in very poor and messy output or handwriting.
In sum - producing an ‘inefficient response’ despite having average or even above-average intelligence.
One child studding in a highly prestigious school in Noida, describes her problems in the following words –“ I have really bad problems with math’s, I get numbers muddled up, flip them upside down and see them backwards. I also have trouble actually applying basic mathematical concepts (for instance, I sometimes add when I should divide or forget the entire sequence). My omissions are huge, I feel floppy all the time and wish I did not have to write on the paper and that too in a fixed and limited time”.
With her visual processing and motor issues, Priyanka’s (actual name) acquisition of math’s concepts is affected and her free recall of mathematical algorithms and areas of her curriculum related to the subject of geography and science are affected. Visualization problems affect her ability to “see” where she last left the sequence - in a problem and thus get’s the entire sum/problem wrong.
To some extent Visuospatial memory - which is an area of concern in dyspraxia and - which supports number representation neurally - as in the event of a child who needs to correctly compute place value and alignment in columns and rows when doing sums - makes arithmetic a challenging subject for children like Priyanka.
Researchers are now understanding that a child's Visuospatial memory skills are linked with movement planning and control, and that both of these functions of movement planning and control are core issues that dyspraxic children have to deal with not only in their schooling years - but also well into adulthood.
In Priyanka's case, it was discovered that her ability of retention of simple movements in a sequence was not accurate and in a fluid environment like school when she was subjected to incoming dynamic stimuli in her math’s class those sequential presentation’s were completely lost on her inability to place it in a systematic form cognitively.
There is a high possibility that the combination of fine motor activity and added processing demands of arithmetic prove difficult for a child with dyspraxia.
For parents who ignore or “indulge” their children despite noticing obvious symptoms of motor inabilities - howsoever minor - sound advise would be to take prompt action. The reason is that didactical principles such as starting with the manipulation of concrete materials or abstract tasks in a number of problems format illustrates the importance of motor skills to develop a child's mathematical skills.
Seriation, classification, counting are all motor-based activities and crucial for arithmetic competence as well as methodical mental representation of number concepts for a child. Mental representations allow a child an understanding of simple arithmetic operations such as addition and subtraction on which are built the foundation for complex mathematical learning.
Task specific training programme - such as those utilized by the Dyslexia Association of India™, can help children with Dyspraxia - and more so because when a child has above average intelligence - the cognitive processing and storage components are separate from the underlying deficit that causes the academic problem’s seen in Dyspraxia.
For more information, and to ascertain whether your child may be silently suffering from Dyspraxia, observe her carefully. If you are getting frustrated very easily watching him make simple and silly mistakes and unable to co-ordinate his motor activities and himself properly - as a parent you must take the first step in helping your child to be correctly screened for this particular developmental delay. Dyspraxia starts of with being a developmental deficit but the impact on the child’s academic efforts is substantial and a leading factor for Learning Disabilities to set in.
Parents can contact the Dyslexia Association of India™ through e-mail on
email@example.com or call on +91-8826022886 to know more and set an appointment for the screening.
Preventive screening earlier on in the school years makes a huge difference on how Dyspraxia progresses and can mitigate emotional suffering of the child.