Dyscalculia is defined as “a specific and persistent difficulty in understanding numbers which can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with mathematics. It will be unexpected in relation to age, level of education and experience and occurs across all ages and abilities.” Dyscalculia is not the same as “maths anxiety”, however those with the condition can find anything to do with maths and counting frustrating and upsetting.
Dyscalculia can be assessed by someone with experience in maths learning and learning difficulties, or it can be more formally assessed by someone from a registered organisation. If you think that you need a dyscalculia assessment, you can read more information through this webpage.
The main symptoms of dyscalculia in adults include:
- Difficulty counting backwards
- Struggling to remember ‘basic’ facts
- Slow to perform calculations
- Weak mental arithmetic skills
- Poor sense of numbers and estimation
- Struggling with spatial awareness and visual orientation
- Difficulty in understanding place value
- Taking longer to read an analogue clock
These symptoms can make certain tasks and roles in the workplace difficult for those with dyscalculia. Unfortunately, there is not widespread awareness of the condition and how it affects adults, and this can make the situation even more stressful for those experiencing it. Despite the fact that 5-10% of the population are estimated to have the condition.
At Careers with Disabilities, we want to make sure that all people working get the support and resources they need to both survive and thrive at work. On this page, we are going to discuss help available for both people with dyscalculia and for the employers working with them. For guidance on other conditions, you can refer back to the list of pages available on the Disability Advice Hub.
Help For People With Dyscalculia
If you have dyscalculia and you are struggling at work, there are a few dyscalculia strategies you can use to help yourself out. Basic things include:
- Getting a calculator
- Having a digital clock on your desk
- Using posters with conversion charts and multiplication tables
- Using alarms and reminders
- Keeping post-it notes and notepads handy
It is also important to talk to your employer about your condition if you feel comfortable. If your employer knows about your dyscalculia, they will be able to help you with extra support and resources. If your condition is severe and affects your day to day life, it can be classified as a disability under the Equality Act. In this case, employers must make the reasonable adjustments you need to do your job appropriately and safely.
These reasonable adjustments could include the provision of any of the things we discussed in our list above, and they could also include support and dyscalculia strategies such as:
- A buddy system
- Extra time allocated for tasks that have numbers
- Provision of software or technology that helps
- Removal of tasks and duties that cause stress and discomfort
- More breaks
- Peer review
And so on.
It is ok to ask for these things and you should feel comfortable doing so. You aren’t doing anything wrong by having a disability and so you should never be punished or treated any differently because of it.
If you find that your dyscalculia is causing your employer to make decisions about your employment, treat you differently than other staff members, and even discipline or dismiss you, this may be discrimination. If this is the case, you can speak to the Equality Advisory Support Service for advice and guidance.
It is always important to speak out against unfair treatment. You deserve to be in an inclusive job that gives you the working environment you need to do your best. Thankfully, you can find both of those things right here on Careers with Disabilites.
How Employers Can Support Employees With Dyscalculia
Employees with dyscalculia in your workplace should be treated with care and respect. If you want your employees to perform well and stay loyal to their job role, you will also need to provide the support they need to be on an equal level to the other employees around them.
The following are our tips for supporting your employees with dyscalculia as best as possible:
Before we move on to any other support, it is firstly important that employers listen openly and honestly to their employees. It is easy to make assumptions about what disabled employees will need but it isn’t appropriate.
Listen to what your employees want and need before you jump in with your own plans and dyscalculia strategies.
Make Reasonable Adjustments
You will need to make reasonable adjustments by law if requested by your employee. We have mentioned some possible options for those with dyscalculia, but whatever will best help your employee is up to them and their own symptoms.
If you need financial help making any of these reasonable adjustments, the Access to Work scheme can help.
Seek External Help and Support
You aren’t expected to automatically know everything about dyscalculia and how to help employees with the condition. Even if you do know a lot, you also won’t be the best person to support your employee in every single situation.
To keep yourself right, you can seek external help and support from designated providers. Some great options are:
Being a supportive and inclusive employer takes dedication, but it doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. You can find lots of expert resources and guides on Careers with Disabilities to help you on your journey to equality, diversity, and inclusion.