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All parents are eager to see a baby’s first step. Then they wait for the first word, and, before long, the parents are teaching their child ABC’s and how to count. For the parents of the dyslexic child this moment will not come at an early age. The parents may think, “Oh, he’ll grow out of it. Just wait until he goes to school.” And they do. But the problem isn’t solved at school.

Follow up:

The parents will receive a letter asking for permission in testing the child. The report returns, and the parents are informed that their child has a form of dyslexia known as dyscalculia (math disability). They saw the signs and ignored them. While it is true that the parents could not have stopped the problem, the problem could have been eased for the child if early recognition had been addressed and early intervention of the problem begun.

Dyscalculia involves the inability to learn or comprehend simple mathematics. The child is unable to understand numbers thus manipulating numbers and learning facts is extremely difficult for him. The difficulty for the child to sequence, as in counting to 100, will be apparent. This child will need extra time and instruction in the field of math. The earlier this is begun, the better results will be.

For the majority of children, counting to 100 is easily achieved, but the child with dyscalculia is vulnerable to missing the first major math step of counting if the problem isn’t recognized and remediation is not begun.

Parents begin counting to their children quite early. If a problem is seen, the wisest decision for the parents is to have their child tested. At this point, help can begin at home. Here are a few tips.

- Count with your child. Use a singing, happy voice. Count while driving down the highway. Count in the kitchen. Count whenever you are happy. Help the child feel good about counting. It is a fun thing to do.
- Show the child numbers throughout the day. “Do you see those numbers on the sign? They tell us the name of the highway on which we are driving.” Or “Let’s bake a cake. See the numbers that I use? These numbers make sure we bake a tasty cake!” The child will realize that there is a very good reason why he needs to count.
- Start with objects that are alike – marbles, Lego blocks, bingo chips. Lay five on the table or floor. “Let’s count – 1-2-3-4-5.” Do you see 5? How many do we have? Let’s count again and again and again.” Until you are sure your child sees 5. Go to the next step. “Let’s see if we can count them backwards 5-4-3-2-1. Gee, that was fun!”
- Place five (5) sticky notes on the refrigerator. Number them 1-2-3-4-5. As your child and you go through the day, ask your child to count them. When you are absolutely sure that she/he has grasped the concept of five (5), you are ready to go to the next set of numbers. Never move forward until you are convinced that the child has mastered the first step. To do so will slide you back to the beginning of your work. It’s a lot like putting the cake in to bake without mixing the ingredients first. Move forward very slowly. Gradually you can begin to divide the numbers into groups of five.

Remember: Take your time. Be sure the child understands and sees the concept before moving on to a new concept.