Tests For Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia & Tests Used to Diagnose It

No parent wants to see their child struggle in school. Most parents assume their child will perform and progress in a manner that is both expected and on par with the other students. When a child starts to show signs of struggling with basic learning concepts, it’s incumbent on you as the parent to start looking for answers as to the reason or reasons for their struggles.

If by chance your child is struggling with math, it’s very possible they have a learning disability the medical profession refers to as dyscalculia. Of course, there is only one way you can know for sure that this particular learning disability is the proximate cause of your child’s struggles. That would be to get a full evaluation from a licensed doctor or psychologist who specializes in learning disabilities and does Independent Educational Evaluations or IEE.

math

Signs Your Child Might Have Dyscalculia

Prior to going through the expense of evaluation and testing, your child might be showing signs of dyscalculia in school or at home when doing math homework.

As a means of determining whether or not to have your child evaluated, here are some signs you can look for (age of child dependent):

  • Has trouble learning to count
  • Struggles with very basic math calculations
  • Needs to use fingers to count beyond the first year of elementary school
  • Struggles with the recognition of math symbols
  • Has trouble properly lining up numbers for calculations
  • Avoids math and the use of numbers
  • Struggles to keep score in games and sports
  • Has difficulty telling time or counting money
  • Types of tests for Dyscalculia

When you take your child in for a full evaluation of their learning abilities, they will need to go through some testing. Of course, that could be a little stressful for your child, especially if they are under the age of 10. Just the same, testing is the best way for a doctor to determine whether or not your child has a learning disability like dyscalculia.

Since, dyscalculia is a very specific learning disability that involves math, there is a good chance the doctor will administer a battery of tests that focus on math learning and skills.

Essentially, you can expect them to administer multiple tests from one of the following four types:

  • Tests that assess computation skills
  • Tests that assess math fluency
  • Tests that assess quantitative reasoning
  • Tests that assess mental computation

It’s reasonable to expect that you as the parent would like to know more about these types of tests. For that information, we encourage you to keep reading.

Many exceptional people struggled with Math. Four notable people:

Alexander Graham Bell: 1847-1922 – Invented the Telephone
Thomas Edison: 1847-1931 – Invented Lightbulb
Michael Faraday: 1791-1867 – Invented the Electric Motor
Charles Darwin: 1809-1882 – Theory of Evolution which had a great impact on science

Tests That Assess Computation Skills

In this category, the most popular and common tests would include:

  • The Woodcock-Johnson IV (WJ IV) Calculation subtest,
  • The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test IV (WIAT-III) Numerical Operations,
  • Certain subtests of the Comprehensive Mathematical Abilities Test (CMAT),
  • And the Mathematical Fluency and Calculations Tests (MFaCTs).

These tests will help identify how your child handles basic math operations like adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and dealing with basic fractions.

As you well know from your school days, having these basic math skills is necessary in order to be able to handle more complicated math calculations in the future. The testing process involves nothing more than giving your child basic math equations and asking them to work through them manually with paper and pencil.

Tests That Assess Math Fluency

In this category, the most popular and common tests would include:

  • The WJ IV Math Fluency subtest,
  • The MFaCTs Fluency Test,
  • And the WIAT-III Math Fluency subtest.

These types of tests are directed at determining how quickly and accurately your child can solve basic math equations. If they struggle to handle basic math by instinct, it will force them to use too much energy on the basics and affect their ability to do math without counting fingers or using a calculator.

These types of tests involve answering as many math problems in writing while trying to complete as many as possible within a prescribed time period.

student doing homework

Tests That Assess Quantitative Reasoning

In this category, the most popular and common tests would include:

  • The WIAT-III Math Problem Solving subtest,
  • The CMAT Problem Solving,
  • And the WJ IV Applied Problems.

Beyond handling basic math operations, children need to learn how to understand quantitative relationships and how to turn word problems into a mathematical formula they can solve. These tests measure a child’s ability to do this kind of reasoning. Issues in this area could be caused by either dyscalculia or dysgraphia (language understanding learning disability).

To test in this area, children are given a series of oral word problems and asked to solve the problems while showing their work. If a child in mid-elementary school struggles to lay out a proper math formula to help solve the problem, the presence of dyscalculia is almost certain.

Tests That Assess Mental Computation

In this category, the most popular and common tests would include:

  • The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) Arithmetic subtest,
  • The Test of Mental Computation,
  • And the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT).

Children who are proficient in math have very good math recall capabilities. They can do math calculations in their head with reasonable speed and accuracy. Tests like this will assess a child’s ability to do “mental math.”

Testing is done either orally or visually. The child is given math problems and asked to solve them in their head without paper and pencil. If a child scores low in this area, it could indicate they have issues with basic math, problems with math memory, or perhaps emotional problems that interfere with their ability to mentally perform math operations.

Girl With Books

Treating Dyscalculia

It is important to understand that math ability is not an indicator of intelligence. People can be gifted in one area, like Picasso was at painting, or Shakespeare was at writing, but still struggle with math. Kids are no different and can have above-average intelligence while also struggling with dyscalculia, don’t be surprised if your doctor asks to administer an IQ test. If they come to the conclusion your child has dyscalculia, there are a couple of ways to treat this learning disability.

The first would be to have your child work with an occupational therapist who would try to train your child to improve their relationship with numbers. If that brings little to no improvement, there are accommodations (computers, calculators, math tables) that can be made available to help your child be able to handle the required math.

The Serin Center

If you are located in the Metro Phoenix Arizona area, the Serin Center has tow offices located in Peoria, AZ and Scottsdale, AZ that can provide testing for Dyscalculia and provide Independent Educational Evaluations. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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