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#247117  05/06/20 08:47 PM
Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?

Member
Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1628
Loc: Australia

And if so how do we find it? How do you tease out stealthy math issues? Are there particular tests that can be used?
Long version: Our child's strength on testing (IQ and achievement) and in every day life is clearly verbal.
There were some extreme disparities in their most recent WISC5 profile. The stated reasoning for not calculating a full scale IQ lays out differences between various indexes including one of well over 4 standard deviations (much closer to 5 actually), one of three deviations and 4 of two deviations...
The WIAT also had some significant gaps between achievement levels, but there were NO areas of achievement under 94th percentile. There is no measure on the standard testing that has been given where our child could be described as having any learning disability, including math.
The psychologist we used was really lovely, the most skilled we have encountered where we ware, and very engaging, but openly stated she'd never tested anyone like our child and wasn't sure she ever would again. She was very concerned about our child's self perception with regard to math but adamant there was no "disability".
How then do we actually tease out whether the problems we see are to do with incorrect interpretation of accurate self perception of relative difficulty ("Math is SO much harder than verbal things, therefore I am terrible at Math."), possible self image issues from the school attended before we moved to home school, or whether there IS an actual math problem that we could be taking specific steps to remediate?
I have been pondering this issue for some time now, but our math lesson today really prodded me again to DO something.
We are working on division and it's very clear there is no mastery, or at least no access to, the times tables that were rock solid 6 months ago. As soon as we started homeschool last July we spent 3 months using Timez Attack as a regular part of our daily program until it was complete sometime around October/November.
Both of my older children used timez attack. Both have more obvious 2e profiles that make any sort of rote learning very difficult for them (for somewhat related yet different reasons). My husband and I both found rote learning tasks in primary school difficult. Difficulties with rote learning vs reasoning are "normal" in our family.
Both older children found it far harder to get through timez attack, we had to bribe them quite meaningfully to get it done, but it was very effective for them. One got to the end of all sections, but was never able to beat the final boss, they just could not be that accurate under time pressure (reading, typing and math accuracy all required at speed). Despite not beating that last boss, in the process they went from the worst in the class, to the best in class at the times tables competitions their teacher ran and of course all of math became easier for them once they reached that point. It was a huge confidence boost.
I think it is fairly clear that as long as you genuinely understand how multiplication and division works it's not exactly necessary to rote learn the times tables, but primary school math, and later speed and accuracy, becomes SO MUCH EASIER when you have them... so we have persisted with all three children.
Many years later both older children probably don't have perfect recall of every single item to 12x12, but they've got decent automaticity on most of them, enough of them. Nothing else we tried had worked for these two, but timez attack was ultimately as successful as we could have hoped.
Youngest child actually made their way through the process of timez attack younger, was faster & got through more easily than the older two, and certainly found holding it all together for the final boss the easiest of the three of them.... Notably they also learned touch typing younger, faster and easier than the older two... And yet 6 months later seems to have no access to any of it at all.
Each division sum today they would manually write out the chain of multiples of the relevant number and have to think about each step slowly as they wrote, and if they turned the page and needed that sequence again, they would write it again...slowly.
With the other two, their issues and errors in math seem to be more related to their clear other Es (dysgraphia makes it super hard to line numbers up well, introduces transcribing errors, etc). But rarely is there this sense of "You just keep losing part of this concept don't you?". Working on math with this child does have a certain feel about it that is similar to working with the dyslexic child in their very prolonged learningtoread years.
I also see a real weakness in understanding place value. Every time I think it's rock solid there will be some random incident that really clearly shows me there is no deep sense of how the number system works. We can work and work and work with base 10 math blocks and seem rock solid about an idea, and then sometimes feel like that has no impact when we move back to the application on paper...
In truth this child has never had much number sense. I remember at about 3, and already EXTREMELY verbal (and tall, which together often skew people's perception of age dramatically) a friend who was a teacher listened to something our child said, which wasn't about math but included some description of scale (eg "a billion icecreams") and remarked to me "Wow, they really have NO number sense at all do they?" "Nope!".
We saw this most often with a sense of scale, the words for large numbers (ie a million or a billion) clearly conveyed no sense of scale other than "big". This seemed quite notable relative to their speech at 3, but I figured was not that big a deal for a 3yr old not have a concept of a billion beyond "word of lots"... Where as now, at 10, I am not convinced that has really shifted as significantly as it should have.
When writing an essay my child might ask me to check that they have written the digits correctly for 1M vs 1B (ie correct number of zeros) and can discuss reasonably why what they had written was or was not correct. They know these numbers are different, and that one is a thousand more than the other, and in which order, but it seems to lack weight conceptually. Also when writing (recent example) they might refer to "hundreds" of people doing something when really I would expect them to know that this context should be "hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people".
I have three 2E kids, most of my friends who I might get quite detailed ideas about what their children are really doing are also parenting 2E kids. The stories that I remember about my kids, and that my friends tell are a mish mash of wildly advanced and significantly delayed children... My own kids are also fairly well spread, 4yrs since another child was in this grade is a wonderful amount of time for me to forget things in! It's incredibly difficult for me to maintain a sense of what is appropriate for age let alone figure out whether that is ok and appropriate for my child's completely unusual developmental process. I do know that a "normal" 10 yr old would not be writing the essay in which the "hundreds of people" problem occurred, so maybe my expectations are wrong?
So, how does one figure out IF there is a math problem, and if so what that problem might be? And whether we can do anything in particular to help...
Edited by MumOfThree (05/06/20 08:48 PM)

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#247122  05/07/20 01:24 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: MumOfThree]

Member
Registered: 04/26/14
Posts: 3638

Hm. We've discussed some of this child's profile in the past, and I do continue to feel that there is a component which is selfperception regarding one's relative weakness. But the anecdotes regarding gaps in fundamental quantity concepts are thoughtprovoking. In answer to the topline question: yes, dyscalculia is a thing, and it can be stealth in a way similar to compensated dyslexia (most notably, see the life of Laurent Schwartz, winner of the Field Medal in mathematics, who apparently never did attain automaticity in math facts). In your DC's case, the dyscalculia, if any, would be of a slightly different nature, since it's not the inability to rote memorize math facts per se so much as it appears to be a lack of underlying number sense. Can she subitize at all, btw? (Look at a small number of items, usually four or less, and tell at a glance how many there are.) As to remediation: on a practical level, specific to multiplication facts, you could try Times Tales, which is a storybased system for memorizing them that often suits verbalsequential learners better. ( https://www.timestales.com/) Mahesh Sharma has a few videos up (he sells many more on his website, which I haven't viewed, so can't say anything about, but these are free, on his YouTube channel) on foundational math instruction, that may be of interest. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzvEtY9fQXzsEcoaP5L5eyw/featuredThe classic multisensory remediation system for math is TouchMath ( www.touchmath.com), but it's probably going to feel much below your DC's level, as it really goes way back to concrete number sense exercises.

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#247129  05/07/20 05:56 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: MumOfThree]

Member
Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1628
Loc: Australia

Thanks AEH, I really appreciate the time you have already given me on this issue! I do think it's probably not an "either/or" situation that is happening here, there are probably multiple issues at play.
I just put out two limes and a green apple, thinking they were all limes (oops). And asked how many limes. At a glance "2". I realised my error and asked how many green things. "3" complete with an eyeroll.
So I tried a bunch of bananas and those were touch counted (correctly), which perhaps was reasonable as they were in a bunch and trickier to see at a glance...
So I tried a handful of gravel from a pot plant and specifically asked for a GUESS of how many. My guess was less accurate! I guessed 15 vs 20, there were 18 (though in the final count some very small bits I had not noticed were included). There were probably 15 decent sized pieces and 3 small bits.
So I would say yes, there is a decent sense of "how many" at that level.

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#247130  05/07/20 05:56 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: MumOfThree]

Member
Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1628
Loc: Australia

My testing methods are notably non standardized :)

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#247136  05/07/20 07:19 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: MumOfThree]

Member
Registered: 04/26/14
Posts: 3638

So that would suggest that quantity concepts in her everyday experience are intact. The quantities you've listed as not intuitive are all much harder to experience concretely in one's everyday life. That suggests to me that if there are (as there may well be) some underlying vulnerabilities in number sense, with her overall high level of cognition, the kind of concrete, multisensory experience with quantity that occurs in everyday life has remediated the smaller numbers sufficiently, but there might not be enough meaningful multisensory interaction with larger quantities (e.g., the higher multiplication facts, 100s, 1000s) to have created number sense at those levels. That suggests, too, that the smaller scale of number sense could be used to build up to larger scales. Which, incidentally, is very similar to teaching larger multiplication facts. E.g., she has a sense of 3 at a glance, and of 20 as an estimate. So 3x20=60 looks like three groups of 20. Your testing methods are "qualitative".

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#247138  05/07/20 11:02 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: aeh]

Member
Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1628
Loc: Australia

So that would suggest that quantity concepts in her everyday experience are intact. The quantities you've listed as not intuitive are all much harder to experience concretely in one's everyday life. That suggests to me that if there are (as there may well be) some underlying vulnerabilities in number sense, with her overall high level of cognition, the kind of concrete, multisensory experience with quantity that occurs in everyday life has remediated the smaller numbers sufficiently, but there might not be enough meaningful multisensory interaction with larger quantities (e.g., the higher multiplication facts, 100s, 1000s) to have created number sense at those levels. That suggests, too, that the smaller scale of number sense could be used to build up to larger scales. Which, incidentally, is very similar to teaching larger multiplication facts. E.g., she has a sense of 3 at a glance, and of 20 as an estimate. So 3x20=60 looks like three groups of 20. Your testing methods are "qualitative". Thanks AEH, we (I?) do spend a lot of time talking about ways of finding the simple patterns she does know and using them. We talk about how 40+70 (400+700) can be done as 4+7 as long as you maintain state on tens and hundreds. And she seems much more able to do that verbally than when faced with sums on paper. She will struggle with a problem, I will suggest a solution for working with parts of numbers separately and putting them back together, she can do that verbally, and then she can usually write that down at the end. But she rarely thinks to do that herself and rarely seems to be able to apply these skills that she has verbally to what she sees on paper in an equation for the same thing. It's been useful to write that out. I do think that it is the case that she can work with concrete materials with me, OR do math verbally with me (with no concrete materials) at a far superior level to what happens when faced with sums on paper. She's far more likely to do quite random things with mixing up her place values on paper than she ever would verbally. I will try to test this on Monday.

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#247216  06/02/20 07:00 PM
Re: Is there a math equivalent of Stealth Dyslexia?
[Re: MumOfThree]

Member
Registered: 04/07/11
Posts: 1628
Loc: Australia

Just following up on this post. Reflecting on the course of our current term (we are in week 7), we had changed approaches to math this term, and increased our focus on math, which first lead to me to be quite concerned and make this post. As time has passed I continue to feel like there are some weird issues and I wish I knew how to have that assessed, but I am seeing some interesting progression.
A month ago I reported needing to write down the sequence of every times table table sequence every time it was needed (even moments later), despite having recently been rock solid with times tables in and out of order. Now we have a much faster realisation that times tables facts are needed, followed by verbally reciting in order until the multiple that is needed has been reached, and with increasing confidence and speed. This is hardly gifted math, but it seems like it's possibly the path to this child finding a way that works for them. It seems like it has the potential to become internalised / non verbal.
I am still seeing random incidents of fairly marked completely forgetting steps, or how do a simple procedure. For example we might see a task completed as addition instead of multiplying despite reading the operand aloud correctly, mixing up the procedures of addition and multiplication (so rather than accidentally making the wrong operation but correctly, they might attempt to do the correct operation but randomly make steps that are for a different operation), or missing steps from a basically correct procedure... Also incredibly delayed answers on single digit addition, multiplying by 0, multiplying by 1 all of which they understand but need to think very hard about (only some of the time). Maybe it is a working memory issue, I am not sure what is going on.
Edited by MumOfThree (06/02/20 07:01 PM)

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