One in 20 kids has aversion to maths
Borneo Bulletin: 12th September, 2003.
A British scientist
has come up with a new term to describe children with an aversion to
mathematics, claiming that "dyscalculia" - the arithmetic equivalent of
dyslexia - affects one in 20 schoolchildren.
According to reports in Thursday's press, Brian Butterworth of University
College London told the British Association science festival at Salford in
Greater Manchester that, while most people could recognise three or four
objects without needing to count, dyscalculics could not.
Advocating special treatment for those afflicted, Butterworth said they
had trouble manipulating all numbers.
"Our big success this year has been to get the government to recognise
dyscalculia," he said.
"These kids find it difficult to count. They think that three plus one is
five. They might learn it by rote, but they do not understand why it isn't
five," Butterworth told the gathering of prestigious scientists on
"They are misdiagnosed by their teachers as stupid, they are misdiagnosed
by their parents as stupid, they think of themselves as stupid, other kids
think they are stupid and the daily maths lesson is a daily humiliation
for them," he added.
These children could be competent in other ways, while afflicted by
"number blindness", the professor said.
"We have done focus group studies with nine-year-old kids with this
condition and I found what they said heartbreaking, they feel so bad about
"If we can find a simple way of diagnosing this, and alerting teachers and
parents and kids themselves to the problem, we can say it is just like
colour blindness, it doesn't show you are stupid."
Butterworth told the conference tests with 18,000 people showed that women
were quicker at recognising numbers up to three than men were.