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Learning Disability (Math)

A student with a learning disability in mathematics has difficulty retrieving basic arithmetic facts from memory, identifying or organizing numbers, sequencing numbers or mathematical processes, and solving complex mathematical calculations accurately under time constraints.
Learning disabilities are lifelong neurobiological disorders that impact the ability to process information accurately especially under time constraints. A student who is diagnosed with Math LD may or may not have processing difficulties with reading or writing. A student with Math LD may experience a deficit in processing and remembering visual information impeding the counting and sequencing processes. Some students with Math LD have difficulty with lower level processes such as simple arithmetic and sequencing but have no difficulty with higher level abstract mathematical concepts. These students generally use strategies such as writing down formulae or using calculators to reserve their cognitive resources for higher level problem solving.

Observing Learning Disability (Math) in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with a learning disability in math:

  • May reverse, rotate, substitute, omit, or transpose figures, equations, or numbers
  • May have difficulty differentiating between mathematical symbols
  • May have difficulty appropriately lining up columns of numbers
  • May be unable to quickly perform mental mathematics
  • May have difficulty generating or understanding diagrams
  • May have difficulty solving complex problems with multiple steps under time constraint


Related Functional Characteristics

Fatigue (Cognitive) : The necessity for students to implement compensatory strategies because of working and long term memory deficits result in cognitive fatigue.

Fluid Reasoning : Students with fluid reasoning deficits have difficulty solving mathematical problems requiring inductive and deductive reasoning rapidly and may need to employ strategies that require extended time.

Information Processing Speed : Information processing speed deficits make it difficult to solve complex mathematical problems without time to employ appropriate strategies.

Long Term Memory Deficit : Retrieving correct mathematical facts or formula from long term memory requires students to implement strategies that require extra processing time.

Processing Deficit (Visual) : Visual processing deficits impact a student's ability to perceive, analyze, synthesize and recognize visual patterns.

Sequencing Deficit : Sequencing of information critical to performing mathematical computation makes it necessary for students to employ strategies to ensure they are performing steps in the appropriate order.

Visual Tracking Problem : Students with visual tracking problems have difficulty isolating individual lines in math problems and proofs.

Working / Short Term Memory Deficit : Representation and manipulation of information necessary to execute multiple steps require students to implement strategies that require extra processing time.

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