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Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty that affects the ability to use and acquire mathematical skills.

Nurse with a mask on with a child patient smiling at her

Tell me something ten times and I won’t remember, show me once and I’ll get it.

For some, this might affect how they see numbers; others may find reading symbols difficult, or might find using finance and numbers in everyday life a challenge.

Around 5% of people in the UK have dyscalculia, sometimes alongside other learning difficulties.

Having dyscalculia does not mean someone will have low intellectual ability.

Common misconceptions or things we’ve had said to us…

“You just need to go back to school”

“People just think you’re stupid”

“I’ve told you this already, why can’t you do it?”

“Just dyslexia with numbers”

“You’re just lazy, you make life more difficult than it needs to be”

Strengths and talents of people with dyscalculia

People with dyscalculia often have particular abilities in:

  • Creativity and artistic talent
  • Strong strategic thinking
  • A love of words, often with excellent spelling and grammar
  • Intuitive thinking
  • Great organisational skills
Examples of how our staff with dyscalculia are supported

"Using technology to support, including googling percentages, using the calendar and note functions on a smart phone, using sat nav systems, using different keys or shortcuts on the keyboard."

"Formula cheat sheets in drug preparation areas."

"Being able to call on colleagues to check drug preparations and ensure errors aren’t made."

Other traits

People with dyscalculia may also find that they:

  • Find it difficult to mathematical equations or to retain numerical information
  • Have a lack of confidence with numbers
  • Find it difficult to give or follow directions – but can walk with someone to the right place

Non-urgent advice: CUH staff tell us

  • Dyscalculia doesn’t just affect our ability to do maths on paper; it also affects being able to retain numerical information, reading timetables, making appointments or following directions.
  • We can be very forward thinking, can see things coming and prepare one step ahead.
  • We often have great ideas about how to make things easier, not just for us but for everyone – listen to us!
  • We can have an almost sixth sense of being able to just look at a patient and know they’re not ok, that they’re upset or really unwell.
  • We develop our own way of doing things that might look different but still has the same outcome.
  • We learn better by doing and copying someone rather than by theory.
  • We are often really approachable and people come to us for help or advice.
  • It’s better to ask me what would help me personally, rather than try and offer advice if you’re not an expert.
  • Trying to make us improve in areas of weakness can be hugely stressful and damaging to confidence.
  • Make the most of what we’re good at and use our skills.