Thursday, March 24, 2011

an open letter to my daughter regarding dyscalculia

my dear mia,

when u were 3 years old,i would give you exercise books for u to playfully write letters and was so much fun then watching u trying so hard to copy my handwriting with your little chubby fingers.oh how i love your chubby fingers.i used to kiss them one by one every night after i came back from work.

but then i slowly realised that no matter how hard u tried u could not copy the numbers i wrote for u.strangely all the numbers were upside down with the exception of 8.i was worried when u started to write 10 as 01 and so on.i quit my job and decided to take care of u full time.i sent u to be tutored by an expert and u slowly caught up but there were times when u forgot to write them properly thus making silly mistake is common for u.

over the years i saw u attempting to do simple math.but u found it so difficult to even do simple addition.i knew something was not right.that u are different than other children.i felt that there is this invisible barrier between u and mathematics.u just can't seem to go over the barrier.

by then i realised if i were to send u to local school,u will be 'lost' in the class of at least 40 kids.i was afraid the teacher might not be able to teach u effectively.i decided that u must go to an international school.i chose one with only 15 kids in 1 class.with this i hope u will be able to cope with numeracy exercise and pick up the skills which are required out of the same time i taught u at home.

one of the funniest memories i had was teaching u fractions.i told u if i were to cut a cake into 2 for u and i to eat,what is the fraction of the cake.u told me 'mummy,if i were to have a cake why would i want to cut into 2?let's just eat together sharing 1 spoon!'.

now u are in year 4.i see u are struggling with numeracy.the other subjects u manage to get 90% and above but with numeracy u consistently get low marks or fail.a lovely lady who blogs as kak d of pause to reflect blog gave me a wonderful insight of how your brain works.she suspected that u have dyscalculia.

what is dyscalculia u might ask.according to wikipedia, Dyscalculia or math disability is a specific learning disability or difficulty involving innate difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics. It is akin to dyslexia and can include confusion about math symbols. Dyscalculia can also occur as the result of some types of brain injury.

there are so many symptoms which i knew in my heart of hearts u have been displaying since u were little.the symptoms u display are as follows:

  • Frequent difficulties with arithmetic, confusing the signs: +, , ÷ and ×.

  • Difficulty with everyday tasks like checking change and reading analog clocks.

  • Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc. 

  • Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time.

  • Might do exceptionally well in a writing related field- many authors and journalists have this disorder.u have been writing essays consistently since u were 4.u don't play with toys so much i notice but instead u write short stories or draw objects.

  • Having particular difficulty mentally estimating the measurement of an object or distance (e.g., whether something is 10 or 20 feet (3 or 6 metres) away).the concept of converting measurement is totally alien to u.

  • Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences.

  • An inability to read a sequence of numbers, or transposing them when repeated, such as turning 56 into 65.

  • The condition may lead in extreme cases to a phobia or durable anxiety of mathematics and mathematic-numeric devices/coherences.

  • Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks.

  • Low latent inhibition, i.e., over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical-numeric deficits).

  • what shall i do to help u mia?i am feeling defeated's very hard to teach u on my own because frankly sometimes i feel like screaming when u can't seem to grasp numeracy.u are not less clever than any other kid out there.u are so smart in language based subjects.your french teacher loves u to bits since u are the only one who would speak to him in french after just 4 years of learning the subject.there are not many books in malaysia for me to read on best can i beat that barrier that's holding u back in numeracy?

    i love u mia.u are my life and my soul.and we have a bond that no one can break or come in between.

    can we beat this learning disability together?


    1. Aida,
      i may not have the answer, but i can lend you my shoulder. as a mother, we always hope for the best in our kid. explore her other talents. cultivate that area.
      i hated science & maths so much when i was in school. worst off, my dad is a physics lecturer. just imagine his embarassment when his only daughter could not comprehend the subjects that he preached...

    2. ooh physics..that's my weak subject too..i don't know what to do.but i've decided to seek professional help.classes for her to do math exercise again and again.

    3. Salam sis Aida,
      I've stumbled upon your blog through blog hopping and I would like to share my personal experience here.
      It seems that both your daughter and I have the same learning disabilities.Sadly to say I think my daughter now is also affected by this dyscalculia.
      I would be anxious if the maths teacher stepped into our class and hoping that she will not chose me to do the calculations on the black board.Feeling angry and frustrated I often cry and cry because I thought that i've become so stupid and do such silly mistakes even in a plus or minus question.I can easily get confused about all the formulas and having difficulty in remembering them!
      Honestly I can't differentiate all the plus and minus signs and often doing it the other way.As a result...I always hide my exam marks in order not to get a harsh scolding from my parents...
      My life was totally upside down as I have no one to turn to.
      Now I can see there are some resemblance in my daughter and I try to help her as best I could.I hope that she too will overcome this problem.
      Perhaps you should try and consult the child specialist and maybe they can recommend you the best way to overcome this issue.All the best to the both of you.

      Last but not least,could I link your blog to mine?Thank you in advance!

    4. mira:of course u can link my blog to yours.sad to hear that this learning disability is rampant.and yet most of us would go on thinking we are less bright in mathematics.we have consulted child specialist and other experts as well in mia's case.this disability has a wide spectrum.not everyone is the same.u need to get yr daughter tested too.might make her life easier by doing that.