Dyscalculia

What Does Dyscalculia Look Like in Adults?

If you struggle with math at home and in the workplace, you may have dyscalculia. This breakdown of common symptoms in adults may help you better understand this learning disability and its warning signs.

A college student with ADHD and symptoms of dyscalculia is frustrated while working on a math assignment.
A college student with ADHD is frustrated while working on a math assignment.

Dyscalculia in Adults

Dyscalculia — like other learning disabilities — isn’t just for kids. Adults with this math-related condition will find it difficult to keep track of numbers, perform simple calculations, and memorize basic math facts. It can affect everything from purchasing your morning coffee to driving to your friend’s house, making it a challenging condition to live with — especially if you haven’t been diagnosed.

If you have dyscalculia as an adult, you may have had it from the moment you were born, or it may be the result of a brain injury or stroke. Either way, symptoms can present themselves in a wide range of ways; you may perform some math-related tasks without problems — while struggling with others — or you may have challenges across the board.

Dyscalculia Symptoms in Adults at Home

Monetary transactions, DIY projects, or even a friendly game of pick-up football may be sidelined by dyscalculia. At home, symptoms might include:

  • Trouble doing mental math; gives incorrect change, for instance, or needs a calculator to figure out a tip
  • Frequently late, occasionally missing important events altogether
  • Finds it difficult to remember names
  • Often drives too fast or too slow, or vastly misjudges how long it will take to drive somewhere
  • Needs to write down a phone number immediately to remember it
  • Gets lost easily; misplaces objects around the house frequently
  • Struggles to keep score in games; often loses track of whose turn it is
  • Slow to tell time on an analog clock
  • Poor memory for anything number-related, like dates or facts
  • Struggles to learn dance steps or anything involving motor sequencing

[Screener: Could It Be Dyscalculia?]

Dyscalculia Symptoms in Adults at Work

Even if your job doesn’t directly involve math, you may still be confronted with it at work. If you have dyscalculia, symptoms in the workplace may include:

  • Gets anxious at the thought of having to do math unexpectedly at work
  • Trouble handling money or keeping track of finances
  • Frequently runs out of time while doing a task, or fails to plan enough time for all the things that need to be done
  • Trouble understanding graphs or charts
  • Finds it hard to understand spoken math equations, even very simple ones
  • Skips numbers or transposes them when reading a long list or spreadsheet
  • Finds it difficult to use Excel formulas
  • Uses fingers to count or marks pages with tally marks to keep track of numbers
  • Often gets several different answers to the same math problem; needs to check work over and over again
  • Unable to remember math rules or times tables

If this sounds like you, you may be showing symptoms of dyscalculia. Getting an accurate evaluation — usually from an educational psychologist or another kind of learning specialist — is the first step to overcoming challenges and setting up the supports you need to be successful.

[Early Warning Signs of Dyscalculia]

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