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Mathematics Disorder

Mathematics Disorder

The essential features of Mathematics disorder include the following:

  • Mathematical ability, as measured by individually administered standardized tests, is substantially below that expected given the person's chronological age, measured intelligence, and age-appropriate education.

  • The disturbance significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require mathematical ability.

  • If a sensory deficit is present, the difficulties in mathematical ability are in excess of those usually associated with it.


    The prevalence of Mathematics Disorder is difficult to establish because many studies focus on the prevalence of Learning Disorders without careful separation into specific disorders of Reading, Mathematics, or Written Expression. The prevalence of Mathematics Disorder alone (i.e., when not found in association with other Learning Disorders) has been estimated at approximately one in every five cases of Learning Disorder. It is estimated that 1% of school-age children have Mathematics Disorder.


      Although symptoms of difficulty in mathematics (e.g., confusion in number concepts or inability to count accurately) may appear as early as kindergarten or first grade, Mathematics Disorder is seldom diagnosed before the end of first grade.

      It usually becomes apparent during second or third grade. Particularly when Mathematics Disorder is associated with high IQ, the child may be able to function at or near grade level in the early grades, and Mathematics Disorder may not be apparent until the fifth grade or later.

      Diagnostic criteria summarized from:

      American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


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