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Child Neuropsychology

A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed

  • Dyscalculia is a type of specific learning difficulty where individuals have difficulty in understanding basic concepts in maths. It is surprisingly common affecting 6-7% of the population.  However it is not so recognised in the same way that dyslexia (problems with reading) is.  The key problem in dyscalculia seems to be difficulty in understanding numersiories, which is the ability to automatically recognize the number of objects in a set. Understanding Numerosities seems to be neurologically based and is associated with the intraparietal sulcus in the brain.  Treatment for dyscalculia is not readily available.  I was interested therefore to be sent an app called Babakus by a Swedish psychologist Björn Adler.  You can purchase on the iTunes store here.    The app is designed to help people with dyscalculia.  It works on the same principal as an abacus but with real numbers.  Therefore the learner can associate numbers with quantity when performing calculation.  Thus it helps the learner bridge the gap from objects or fingers to numbers when undertaking maths.   The app is well made and worked well in the trials I gave it.  It is a bit fiddly at first and requires reading the guide to work out how it works.  However once you are used to it it works well.  Using it on the iPad gives it a multi sensory element.  The app contains a video teaching guide, instructions and also contains an eBook about dyscalculia by Björn Adler.  The app is relatively expensive at £20.99 in the UK app store, but is I guess good value compared to other interventions for dyscalculia.  Whilst the app is based on the science of dyscalculia, there is no research as yet looking at outcome.  I understand that research is planned, however some caution about the efficacy of the app is needed until then.   I would recommend trying this app if you have a child or young person struggling with understanding basic maths concepts.   It is a welcome tool in an area where there are few good interventions.  (Note: I have no financial interest in this app and have not been paid to review it.)

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