Dyscalculia diagnosis warning

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:

Dyscalculia in children is hugely underdiagnosed, a new study has found.

Experts from the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast discovered that many youngsters suffer from an undiagnosed developmental condition which affects their ability to learn maths.

The academics, led by Dr Kinga Morsanyi, studied the maths performance of nearly 2,500 primary children over a number of years.

They estimated the number of pupils with dyscalculia to be similar to those with dyslexia, but found that only one of the children who took part in the research had received an official diagnosis prior to the study – compared to 108 who had already been diagnosed with dyslexia. The study itself identified 112 children who were likely to have dyscalculia.

It means that many children will be arriving at secondary school in year 7 with undiagnosed maths difficulties. Dr Morsanyi told SecEd: “We have only worked with primary school pupils, but I think it is unsurprising that if children are not diagnosed during their primary school years, they also won’t get a diagnosis later, as the typical age when children are referred to educational psychology assessment is around seven or eight.

“Within the sample of children with dyscalculia, 80 per cent of the children have other developmental conditions, such as dyslexia or speech and language difficulties, and as the current practice is to assign one diagnostic label to each child, this could partially explain why mathematics difficulties are so often ignored.”

The study, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that there were no gender differences, either in the prevalence of dyscalculia or in exceptionally high performance in maths.


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