Math Learning Disabilities: Overcoming
Math learning disabilities can be a debilitating problem in school and in later life. In today's world, mathematical knowledge, reasoning, and skills are no less important than the ability to read. The effects of math failure during the years of schooling, as well as math illiteracy in adult life, can seriously handicap both daily living and vocational prospects.
According to the statistics approximately 6% of school-age children have significant math difficulties and among students classified as learning disabled, arithmetic difficulties are as pervasive as reading problems. This does not mean that all reading disabilities are accompanied by math problems, but it does mean that math problems are widespread and in need of equivalent attention and concern as reading problems. In the Journal of Learning Disabilities, McLeod and Crump state that about one-half of students with learning disabilities require supplemental work in mathematics.
What Causes Math Learning Disabilities?
Successful intervention is dependent on finding the cause or causes of a problem. Most problems can only be solved if one knows their causes. A disease such as scurvy claimed the lives of thousands of seamen during their long sea voyages. The disease was cured fairly quickly once the cause was discovered, viz. a vitamin C deficiency. A viable point of departure would therefore be to ask the question, "What causes math problems?"
Mathematics is a subject that consists of three aspects:
Foundational skills: Research has shown that visual perception, visual memory, and logical thinking (which makes problem solving possible) are the most important foundational skills of math.
Mathematical skills: There are many things in mathematics that the learner must learn to do, like, for example, the skills of counting, of adding and subtracting, of multiplication and division.
Knowledge: There is much in math that one simply has to know and therefore has to learn, for example many terms, definitions, symbols, theorems and axioms. These are all things that the learner must know, not things that he must know how to do.
It should also be noted that learning is a stratified process. Certain skills have to be mastered first, before it becomes possible to master subsequent skills.
In order to be a basketball player, a person first has to master the foundational skills, e.g. passing, dribbling, defense, and shooting. In the same way, in order to do math, a child first has to learn the foundational skills of math, like visual perception, visual memory, and logical thinking.
The second step would be to master mathematical skills, which must be done in a sequential fashion. One has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. Suppose one tried to teach a child, who had not yet learned to count, to add and subtract. This would be quite impossible and no amount of effort would ever succeed in teaching the child these skills. The child must learn to count first, before it becomes possible for him to learn to add and subtract.
Many of the basic mathematical skills, mentioned above, are taught and exercised by means of Audiblox, like counting, adding and subtracting, and multiplication tables. In addition, foundational skills like visual perception, visual memory, and logical thinking are also taught. In the case of a younger learner, this should in most cases be sufficient to solve his math problem adequately.
When an older learner has problems with math, it may be because he has so far been unable to acquire the foundational skills and mathematical skills adequately and to learn the knowledge that has been presented to him. Through the Audiblox exercises he will acquire the foundational skills required for math, as well as some of the basic mathematical skills like counting, adding and subtracting, but he may also have fallen behind as far as other mathematical skills and also the knowledge aspect of math are concerned. It may therefore be advisable to send him for extra math classes also, in addition to doing Audiblox.
The Audiblox manual contains an Audiblox Math Program. To order an Audiblox kit, click here.
What to Do when a Learner has Math Problems and Reading Problems and/or Spelling Problems
The Audiblox Math Program is not recommended when a learner has reading and/or spelling difficulties also. In such a case it is recommended that one deals with these problems first, by means of the Audiblox programs that address reading and/or spelling, before attending to math problems.
In most cases, one should see at least some improvement in math simply by following these Audiblox programs. In fact, in the case of younger children one often finds that math is the first subject to improve, irrespective of the Audiblox program that one follows. Cindy in Michigan, for example, started with Audiblox on August 26. Her son, then in 3rd grade, was at least one year behind in reading, several years behind in spelling, and two years behind in math. Because he had problems with reading and spelling, she followed the Audiblox Dyslexia Program. This program is primarily aimed at improving reading. Yet, when she started seeing improvement six weeks later, the most noticeable gains were in math: “After six weeks the improvements were very obvious. For one he is actually doing 3rd grade math, which for him is amazing.”
Once the learner's reading and spelling are on par, and still needs help with math, one may then follow the Audiblox Math Program.