Understanding Dyscalculia: Is Dyscalculia A Disability?

Is Dyscalculia A Disability?

About 1 in every 20 people in the UK has dyscalculia; despite this, research into the condition and subsequent understanding of it is years behind that of many other learning difficulties.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with dyscalculia, you may be in the process of researching more on the condition to understand the support available to you.

In this guide, we will discuss whether or not dyscalculia is a disability and what this means for someone diagnosed with the condition.

Let’s get into it.

Understanding Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia, sometimes referred to as number dyslexia, is a learning difficulty that has an impact on someone’s ability to understand numbers. It’s worth noting here that it is no reflection of intelligence.

It can occur on its own but will often present alongside other learning difficulties.

People with dyscalculia will often find maths and number-related tasks troublesome.

Concepts like smaller vs. larger, distance, counting money, time, and maths facts can be tricky.

Symptoms usually appear in childhood, but there is a form of dyscalculia that presents itself later in life.

Dyscalculia And The Impact On Major Life Activities

Dyscalculia can make it harder for someone with the condition to tackle certain tasks, including:

  • Learning maths: Math problems can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for someone with dyscalculia – especially in a learning environment, as children or older students struggle with concepts their peers don’t.
  • Time management: Dyscalculia can make it harder for someone to manage their time effectively.
  • Money management: The condition can have an impact on money management, making it harder for someone to manage a budget or count change.
  • Directions: A person with dyscalculia may find it harder to learn left and right.

The above provides just a snapshot of the impact that dyscalculia can have on someone’s life, but the good news is that, with proper support and adaptations, people with dyscalculia can find ways to work around it.

Defining Disability

Let’s take a moment before we discuss whether dyscalculia is a disability to understand what a disability really is.

A disability can be defined as a condition that significantly impairs an individual’s physical, mental, or sensory abilities, affecting their interactions with the world around them and their capacity to perform certain tasks that are considered routine or standard.

This impairment can be congenital, meaning present from birth, or acquired due to illness, injury, or ageing.

Disabilities can vary greatly in severity and impact, ranging from mild to severe, and can be temporary or permanent.

They may affect various body functions such as mobility, dexterity, cognitive processing, communication, vision, or hearing.

Importantly, the concept of disability is not just limited to the physical or medical aspects; societal attitudes and environmental factors also shape it.

For instance, a society’s lack of accessibility or accommodations can exacerbate the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, limiting their participation in everyday activities.

On the opposite end of the scale, inclusive practices and supportive environments can significantly mitigate these challenges.

So Is Dyscalculia A Disability?

Dyscalculia is considered to be a learning disability under equality laws.

To understand this further, dyscalculia can be considered a disability if the ongoing challenges it causes significantly impact daily activities, even when helpful support has been provided.

Schools often use Special Education Plans to help give students with dyscalculia the same chances to succeed as other students.

In the workplace, making changes and providing support can ensure that people with dyscalculia have equal opportunities.

As we mentioned earlier, though, being diagnosed with dyscalculia is no reflection of a person’s intelligence. With the right support in place, a person with dyscalculia can work around the condition and excel.

People with conditions like dyscalculia and dyslexia often have other strengths which should be focused on.

See also: Is Dyslexia A Disability?

Destigmatizing Dyscalculia

Destigmatising dyscalculia and other learning disabilities is vital for fostering an inclusive society.

Education and awareness are key; it’s important to understand that dyscalculia, like other learning differences, does not reflect a person’s intelligence or effort.

Raising awareness in educational and professional settings can dispel myths and promote understanding.

Supportive environments are crucial, involving resources and adapted teaching methods to aid those with dyscalculia.

Encouraging open conversations about the challenges and experiences associated with dyscalculia helps build empathy and understanding.

Implementing inclusive policies, such as individualised education plans in schools and reasonable adjustments in workplaces, ensures equal opportunities.

Recognising neurodiversity as a valuable aspect of human variation, media and public figures can also play a significant role in normalising dyscalculia.

Empowering individuals with dyscalculia through confidence-building, supportive strategies, and mentoring is essential.

Understanding UK Disability Rights

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010 offer protection to those who are diagnosed with a disability from unfair treatment in educational and employment settings, as well as access to services, spaces, and more.

It is unlawful to discriminate against anyone with a disability, and this includes dyscalculia.

Employers and educators, as well as others in society, should make reasonable adjustments to provide support for someone diagnosed with dyscalculia.

In the next section, we’ll look at what some of these adjustments might be and what the benefits are.

The Benefits Of Reasonable Adjustments

There are a number of reasonable adjustments that can be made to support individuals with dyscalculia. These can include providing a calculator, time management tools, providing information in the person’s preferred format, offering extra time for tests or tasks, and much more.

One of the biggest benefits of these reasonable adjustments is that they can relieve a lot of pressure and anxiety, allowing the person diagnosed to work with their condition instead of against it all the time.

See also: How to get a child tested for dyscalculia.

Our Final Thoughts

Under UK law, dyscalculia can be classed as a learning disability.

Those diagnosed with dyscalculia are protected under equality laws and have a right to reasonable adjustments in educational settings and in the workplace.

With the right support and adaptations, individuals with the condition can work through their difficulties.

If you think you may have dyscalculia, you can take our free online test or get in touch for an assessment.