A Hand Full of Stars
I am a contradiction, but I have come to the conclusion that in some ways the Lord loves contradiction. I am a writer, but I also happen to have Dyslexia and Dyscula, another words letters and numbers can be read or written back words, I was diagnosed at the age of six or seven the first time with this learning disability and again in college, but it is funny because for as long as I can remember I have been a reader, my Nonna never took no I can’t do that for an answer and neither did my Mom or Dad, so I grew up with a love for books and began reading at the age of three and a half not a bad feat for a child who did not walk until she was two and a half and who had/has dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes itself manifest primarily as a difficulty with reading and spelling. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. This suggests that dyslexia results from differences in how the brain processes written and spoken language.
Dyscalculia was originally identified in case studies of patients who suffered specific arithmetic disabilities as a result of damage to specific regions of the brain. Recent research suggests that dyscalculia can also occur developmentally, as a genetically-linked learning disability which affects a person’s ability to understand, remember, or manipulate numbers or number facts (e.g., the multiplication tables). The term is often used to refer specifically to the inability to perform arithmetic operations, but it is also defined by some educational professionals and cognitive psychologists as a more fundamental inability to conceptualize numbers as abstract concepts of comparative quantities (a deficit in “number sense”). Those who argue for this more constrained definition of dyscalculia sometimes prefer to use the technical term Arithmetic Difficulties (AD) to refer to calculation and number memory deficits.
Dyscalculia is a lesser known disability, similar and potentially related to dyslexia and developmental dyspraxia. Dyscalculia occurs in people across the whole IQ range, and sufferers often, but not always, also have difficulties with time, measurement, and spatial reasoning. Current estimates suggest it may affect about 5% of the population. Although some researchers believe that dyscalculia necessarily implies mathematical reasoning difficulties as well as difficulties with arithmetic operations, there is evidence (especially from brain damaged patients) that arithmetic (e.g. calculation and number fact memory) and mathematical (abstract reasoning with numbers) abilities can be dissociated. That is (some researchers argue), an individual might suffer arithmetic difficulties (or dyscalculia), with no impairment of, or even giftedness in, abstract mathematical reasoning abilities.
The word dyscalculia comes from Greek and Latin which means: “counting badly”. The prefix “dys” comes from Greek and means “badly”. “Calculia” comes from the Latin “calculare”. which means “to count”. That word “calculare” again comes from “calculus“, which means “pebble” or one of the counters on an abacus.
Dyscalculia can be detected at a young age and measures can be taken to ease the problems faced by younger students. The main problem is understanding the way mathematics is taught to children. In the way that dyslexia can be dealt with by using a slightly different approach to teaching, so can dyscalculia. However, dyscalculia is the lesser known of these learning disorders and so is often not recognized.
 Potential symptoms
- Difficulty with everyday tasks like checking change and reading analog clocks.
- Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook.
- Difficulty with multiplication-tables, and subtraction-tables, addition tables, division tables, mental arithmetic, etc.
- May do fairly well in subjects such as science and geometry, which require logic rather than formulae, until a higher level requiring calculations is obtained.
- Difficulty with conceptualizing time and judging the passing of time. May be chronically late.
- Particularly problems with differentiating between left and right.
- Difficulty navigating or mentally “turning” the map to face the current direction rather than the common North=Top usage.
- 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).
- 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.
- Difficulty keeping score during games.
- Difficulty with games such as poker with more flexible rules for scoring.
- Difficulty in activities requiring sequential processing, from the physical (such as dance steps) to the abstract (reading, writing and signaling things in the right order). May have trouble even with a calculator due to difficulties in the process of feeding in variables.
- The condition may lead in extreme cases to a phobia or durable anxiety of mathematics and mathematic-numeric devices/coherences.
- 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).
 Potential causes
Scientists have yet to understand the causes of dyscalculia. They have been investigating in several domains.
- Neurological: Dyscalculia has been associated with lesions to the supramarginal and angular gyri at the junction between the temporal and parietal lobes of the cerebral cortex.
- Deficits in working memory: Adams and Hitch argue that working memory is a major factor in mental addition. From this base, Geary conducted a study that suggested there was a working memory deficit for those who suffered from dyscalculia. However, working memory problems are confounded with general learning difficulties, thus Geary’s findings may not be specific to dyscalculia but rather may reflect a greater learning deficit.
Other causes may be:
- Short term memory being disturbed or reduced, making it difficult to remember calculations.
- Congenital or hereditary disorders. Studies show indications of this, but the evidence is not yet concrete.
Some may think that because of my learning disability my Nonna pushed me to much, reading at three may seem ridicolous, but that is not the case at all,. learning has always been a part of my life, and though I still struggle with math, and sometimes transpire words I would not be the author of four published books, including a novel if it were not for Nonna.
As you can imagine rewrites are difficult for me, so I have two friends who help me a great deal when it comes to the process of editing, as a writer that is my least favorite part of the job, my friend Sarah has been helping me with this for years, and more recently my friend Janet, who does not let her blindness slow her down, she helped a great deal in the edits of A Sisters Justice.
I long ago was drawn to the conclusion that despite limitations, whether they be the physical ones i.e my Muscle disorder or learning disabilities such as Dyslexia and Dyscalula which despite what same may believe are not tied with the Muscle disorders I have learned to embrace life, to cherish each moment and thank God for each breath.
Copyright Michelle R Kidwell