Book Offers Comprehensive Study of Dyscalculia

Brian Butterworth felt disappointment at what he calls the “official neglect” of dyscalculia on the part of government and educational authorities. Though estimates of prevalence indicate dyscalculia affects a small percentage of children, Butterworth is passionate about the need for bringing attention to this learning difference.

That disappointment and passion led Butterworth, an emeritus professor of cognitive neuropsychology at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, to write Dyscalculia: From Science to Education.

According to DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — APA, 2013), dyscalculia is “a specific learning disorder, an impediment in mathematics, evidencing problems with number sense, memorization of arithmetic facts, accurate and fluent calculation, and accurate math reasoning” — though Butterworth takes some issue with this characterization.

The author defines dyscalculia as a domain-specific core deficit in what he terms the “number module,” which refers to the neurological structures that support processing and understanding of numbers. He offers this example of a student with dyscalculia (though it can present in many different ways): A student may be able to count five objects in a set, but they are unable to reason that 5 - 2 = 3, whether working with numbers or concrete manipulatives.

Butterworth notes that there has been an increase in scientific research on dyscalculia over the past few years, however this scientific work has not yet crossed over into educational practice. Specifically, dyscalculia, which impacts 4-7% of children according to the text, is often missing from teacher training programs and as a result it is little known an...


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About Ashleigh D'Aunoy

Ashleigh D’Aunoy is director of enrichment, innovation, and talent development at Episcopal School of Acadiana in Lafayette, LA. She has worn many hats in this role, including: directing the enrichment cluster program, leading design thinking projects with PK-5th grade students in the Idea Lab, collaborating with teachers on interdisciplinary project-based learning, teaching math for 2e students in a pullout program, and finding new and better ways to meet the needs of the school’s diverse learners. Ashleigh is currently pursuing an EdD through Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity.