Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia – oh my!


By The Prentice School —

Although any child might struggle with certain aspects of reading, writing, and arithmetic, some children have serious difficulties. These can be signs of the learning differences known as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. “Dys” means difficult, and “lex” means speech. Calculia refers to mathematics or arithmetic, while graphia refers to writing. These are very frustrating for children and their parents, because learning differences have nothing to do with intelligence – they are brain malfunctions that prevent a child from seeing or hearing what other children do.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference. Children with dyslexia display a cluster of symptoms that result in difficulties with language skills, especially reading. A child with dyslexia typically has trouble reading, pronouncing words, and writing. The brain of a child with dyslexia develops and functions differently than that of a child without the disorder.

For example, most people with dyslexia have trouble identifying specific speech sounds within a word or making the connection between letters and how they represent certain sounds. When writing, the child may transpose letters or have difficulty distinguishing the difference between such letters as “b” and “d.” The child may also miss words when reading aloud or have difficulty comprehending what he or she reads.

What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a math-related learning difference. Children with this condition often have trouble understanding number-related concepts. They may struggle with the symbols used in math processes or with completing functions such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. A child with dyscalculia may find it difficult to keep numbers straight when performing a math problem with multiple steps.

Symptoms can vary from one child to another and by age. A preschooler might find it difficult to learn to count or recognize number symbols. Older children may still use their fingers to count instead of performing mental math. A high school student might have a hard time understanding graphs or charts.

What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a learning difference related to writing by hand. It can affect spelling, handwriting, or both. Children with dysgraphia often have messy handwriting and may struggle to keep their letters even when writing on lined paper. They may write more slowly than other children of the same age and struggle to organize their thoughts on paper.

A child with dysgraphia may frequently erase or cross out words, or have difficulty spacing things on paper and staying within margins. Spacing between words and letters may be inconsistent and words may be unfinished or missing letters.

More About Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia

Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia have a number of similarities. First, they are all brain-based learning differences. Children with these conditions are often very intelligent; they just learn differently than other children. Dyslexia is more common than either of the other conditions, and people are often more aware of the possibility a child might have dyslexia.

Scientists believe that these learning differences result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Dyslexia and dyscalculia, for example, tend to run in families. Factors like prenatal nutrition, alcohol, and drugs can affect children’s brain development and cause learning differences. Children who are born prematurely or injured in the birthing process may also develop problems.

Children who learn differently need special help. Without it, they can struggle with self-esteem and may continue to face challenges even in adulthood. At The Prentice School, we have over 30 years of experience helping children with learning challenges in a nurturing environment with good support systems and a holistic family approach. We offer such services as speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, small classes, and specialized educational techniques.



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