Friday, November 11, 2005

Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Other Leraning Disroders

I doubt if anoyne has really noitced but I have a patricularly bad streak with numbers in the Metro Post. Whenever there are figures that appear in any of my aritcles, more often than not I will botch the reproting. Cases in point: some months ago, in writing about the population of Dumaguete City and when it would double, I mitsakenly wrote 2045 instead of 2025. Last week, in the article about the 30-day novel (at which I am doing badly, in case you're interested), I wrote 19 days instead of 24 days.

I shoot off an email to the editors after realizing my goof and give them the amended figures. However, for some inexplicable reason (and through no fault of the editors), fate intecrepts the message and the correction never makes it to print. But of course, that is simply the gremlins in the system mucking up the works.

The incdients made me ask myself whether or not I was afflicted with a mild form of dyscalculia. Perhaps my writing brain is so intent in forming out the words of my article on my computer that the calculating brain is momentarily depirved of oxygen. Hence, all those unfortunate errors of calculation. Then again, you didn't notice, did you?

But what about dyscalculia, or dysnumeria, as it is sometimes called? It's not a condition that I'm making up. Dyscalculia is a neurological disorder which affects a person's capacity with one or more basic numerical skills. People with this disroder can learn to understand complex mathematical concepts but they might have difficulty processing fomrulas, or even simple addition and subtraction.

Dyscalculia is closely related to dyslexia, which more people are no doubt more familiar with. Dyslexia affects a person's ability to read and write, despite a nomral level of intelligence. A general misconception is that dyslexics cannot read at all. A dyslexic can still read and write, but may exhibit difficulty in doing so.

Like dyscalculia, dyslexia has its roots in the miswiring of a person's brain. It's a disability with roots in biochemical and genetic markers. Which parts of the brain are affected is still subject to much debate. Some studies point to short-term memory. Others point to the ability of the eyes to focus. Still others correlate this with sound and visual processing.

Dyslexia affects anywhere from five to 15 percent of the population (don't worry, I checked the figures). It's important to recognize this disability early on, especially in children, who may unfairly be called stupid or lazy by their teachers and peers. Dyslexia and the other learning disabilities can be treated with therapy. Some dyslexics have in fact gone on to write books and perform other marvelous intellectual achievements. One web site which collects these stories is, a web site on learning disabilities.

Other related disabilities include:

  • semantic dyslexia, or inability to attach words to their meanings in reading and in speech;
  • scotopic sensitivity syndrome, a form of dyslexia which makes it very difficult for a person to read black text on white paper, particularly when the paper is slightly shiny;
  • dyspraxia, characterized by difficulty in carrying out routine tasks involving balance, fine-motor control, and kinesthetic coordination;
  • verbal dyspraxia, marked by difficulty in the use of speech sounds, which is the result of an immaturity in the speech production area of the brain.
  • dysgraphia, a neurological disorder characterised by distorted and incorrect writing

Did you have trouble reading this article? If so, you may have dyslexia. Or maybe you don't. I just intenionally peppered this essay with typos. Snigger.

(And with that out of the way, did you hear the one about the dyslexic devil-worshipper? He sold his soul to Santa.)

References: Wikipedia entry on dyslexia

1 comment:

  1. wiki on dyscalculia: