Dyspraxia – Why My Child Struggles With Maths

I have always had a battle on my hands with regards to getting my oldest son to do his homework, or any kind of home learning, unless it’s practical. Just practise and concentrate, try and focus, I would tell him, but it never really seemed to make much difference when it came to numbers.  After explaining many times, having numerous tantrums and arguments, the penny might just drop.  But the next time we went back to it, it was as if he’d never been told.  Frustrating for both of us I felt at a loss.  Maybe it was better to just leave it, perhaps I’m doing more harm than good?  But where would that get him?

In the back of my mind I knew there was something that was deeper than not being very good at maths.  There was an issue that needed addressing.  The school however didn’t seem to know what it was, and they weren’t that interested in investing the time or money to find out, even though he was breaking down in tears almost every day and was clearly having a really difficult time of it.  There have been occasions when I have considered home-schooling. But I didn’t – I just don’t have the skills and patience to teach my own children on a full time basis.

His main issues were that he didn’t get maths, he found it very challenging to remember timetables and fairly straight forward equations.  His reading took a long time to be anywhere near ‘average’ for his age. Handwriting – tricky.   Remembering spelling tests pointless, and the ability to absorb instruction and act upon a given task would be very daunting, and still is. Along with his confidence and self-esteem taking a huge nosedive his social network at school not great, which also contributed to low confidence on top of the school work.

Was his inability to focus and absorb numeracy due to having dyslexia or dyscalculia?  I had no idea and the school said that they didn’t think there were signs of dyslexia (after a minor assessment) and that seemed to be it.  Keep practising!  I was told.  But the practise at home was a major problem, and a huge stress, I felt it was making things worse.  I don’t want to bad mouth his teachers because they were trying to help him but I did feel like we were being strung along.  Why could the school not carry out some assessments so that they could then be able to support him in the way he needed?  I feel that was up to who was holding the purse strings!

We ended up paying privately for someone to assess my sons learning for a handsome sum of £230.  It turned out that he doesn’t have dyscalculia and is slightly dyslexic.  However we discovered that he does have elements of dyspraxia which will inhibit his learning in certain aspects.  Maths is a challenge because his short term memory doesn’t work well which means learning the times tables is tricky, almost pointless sometimes because it is forgotten the next week.

The frustrating part for him is, that he’s a very clever child, having elements of dyspraxia creates stumbling blocks for him and he gets very angry when trying to do certain things.  I hope that he can develop a good dose of resilience so that his confidence doesn’t get too bashed.  When a child tries something many times with no change in result then eventually they think they’re useless at it, in turn self-esteem and confidence takes a tumble, and on it goes snowballing out of control.

It’s taken until he was 8 to understand why he struggles with maths among other things like learning to read, to ride a bike, and be able to write legibly, plus being the most clumsy person I know. When he knew the cause of it he was able to understand himself, and it’s as if things are starting to improve, including his confidence (a little) but we’re working on that.  Also his teachers know where he now needs support to enable him to flourish.

Visual tools are good ways of learning for people with dyspraxia especially if they have the short term memory problem.  My son learns very well from watching documentaries, internet research and anything that gives instant gratification, for example online tests that show your results and improvement as you go, video learning as it can replayed if it wasn’t absorbed the first time.  He uses the entry levels on Stuck on Homework and Study Zone and it is without doubt helping him to progress, and his confidence is following slowly.

It is said that people with dyspraxia are clumsy but clever, let’s allow them to enjoy their clever gift.

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