What I'm about to discuss isn't from an article. However, considering it touches on the academic/research aspect of dyscalculia, I felt it would be appropriate in this section of the forum.
For those who don't know, the APA (American Psychiatric Association) has consistently published a book called The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since the 1950s. This manual assists psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in diagnosing mental disorders through following predetermined criteria. And due to knowledge on neurology, behavioral sciences, and genetics constantly updating, this forces the APA to have to update the DSM every once in a great while.
Anyway, the APA recognizes dyscalculia as a valid learning disability, but it's listed as mathematics disorder in the DSM-IV (4). However, it has now been proposed that the disorder should be called dyscalculia. If this occurs, the name change will happen in 2013 when the DSM-V (5) will be released, and will essentially change the way professionals view dyscalculia.
In addition, the criteria for diagnosing dyscalculia will be updated as well. See the differences:
A. 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.
B. The disturbance in Criterion A significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require mathematical ability.
C. If a sensory deficit is present, the difficulties in mathematical ability are in excess of those usually associated with it.
Coding note: If a general medical (e.g., neurological) condition or sensory deficit is present, code the condition on Axis III.
A. Difficulties in production or comprehension of quantities, numerical symbols, or basic arithmetic operations that are not consistent with the person's chronological age, educational opportunities, or intellectual abilities.
Multiple sources of information are to be used to assess numerical, arithmetic, and arithmetic-related abilities, one of which must be an individually administered, culturally appropriate, and psychometrically sound standardized measure of these skills.
B. The disturbance in criterion A, without accommodations, significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require these numerical skills.
Below is the APA's rationale for the changes:
Name change to dyscalculia to be consistent with international use
Changes reflect emergent evidence since DSM-IV that permits greater specification of dyscalculia in terms of poor basic numeracy skills (rather than poor mathematics as in DSM-IV). (eg., von Aster & Shalev Dev Med Child Neurol, 2007’ Shalev et al, Dev Med Child Neurol 2005; Landerl et al J Exp Child Psychol 2009)
Clarification of severity requirements and need for systematic assessment.
So... any opinions on this? Do you feel the name dyscalculia is far more suitable than mathematics disorder? Do you like that the upcoming edition of the DSM has stricter criteria for the diagnosis?
In my opinion, I much prefer the name dyscalculia over mathematics disorder. I have always felt that "mathematics disorder" is too simple to explain such a complex disability. In my experience (and as many of you know with your own experiences), there's a lot more to dyscalculia than just struggling in math class. It affects us with daily living skills!
This said, even though the APA still insists on only recognizing the mathematical aspect of dyscalculia (does that make any sense?), at least the name change is...well... working in our benefit, to the non-professional person anyway. I say this because it eliminates the common misinformed line of, "Well, everyone sucks at math. Just try harder and you'll get it, though." I feel that a name with a Greek prefix and Latin suffix sounds more real and valid.
Edited by Fennec on November 16 2010 09:33 PM
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Location: United States Posts: 1860 Joined: 2008-11-14
Fennec, thanks for sharing this info! I wonder what that means as far as documentation goes... that is, since my documentation says I have Mathematics Disorder, would it still be considered "valid" in 2013 when the DSM-V is published and the name is changed? It won't actually matter either way because I'm graduating in 2012, but maybe for other people who will still be in need of academic accommodations in 2013.
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
Location: Bribie Island Queensland Australia Posts: 406 Joined: 2005-04-03
Hi Fennec, Many thanks for an interesting Post, I sent an email to a friend of mine who is a Teacher and a psycologist and this was her reply:
Hi Kathy, Psychologists/psychiatrists in Aust use the same classification tools as the APA, which are constantly in review as new things come up or understanding of areas develops (e.g. one of the earlier DSMs used to list homosexuality as a disorder! So times do change!)- so the DSM is one way that specialists classify disorders, but the other one that is widely used is the World Health Organisations's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems-10th ed. (Phew! Usually just called ICD-10)- I've popped the link and the bit I could find on maths below, but I don't think it is as compehensive as DSM. From my perspective, the DSM-V definition more adequately encompasses the EFFECT of the disability in the second point- and that is the point of any diagnosis, in that the impairment affects the individual's functioning in some way, either physically, emotionally etc. If not being able to read/write/calculate was not affecting one's everyday functioning, or causing them distress or restriction in their lives- would it be a problem? It's always going to be a challenge to help the broader community understand the impact of disabilities due to preconceived ideas, such as that one mentioned "everyone sucks at maths"- it's like someone saying "I'm so depressed" after a bad day at work, which is entirely different to a diagnosed depressive episode- as anyone who has ever experienced a true period of depression will testify. I think raising awareness of the everyday impact is really powerful, but also fraught with frustration and I admire your passion to get dyscalculia acknowledged! And although it's just semantics, sometimes having a word such as 'dyscalculia/graphica/lexia' etc gives the issue some gravitas that is lost in just 'maths/writing/reading difficulty/disability'. Although again, people quickly make assumptions about those terms too- e.g dyslexia seen purely as the need for coloured lenses. Anyway, here's the link...http://apps.who.int/classifications/apps/icd/icd10online/ F81.2 Specific disorder of arithmetical skillsInvolves a specific impairment in arithmetical skills that is not solely explicable on the basis of general mental retardation or of inadequate schooling. The deficit concerns mastery of basic computational skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division rather than of the more abstract mathematical skills involved in algebra, trigonometry, geometry, or calculus.Developmental:· acalculia· arithmetical disorder· Gerstmann's syndromeExcludes: acalculia NOS ( R48.8 )arithmetical difficulties:· associated with a reading or spelling disorder ( F81.3 )· due to inadequate teaching ( Z55.8 ) Not sure if any of this helps, but thanks for including me in the discussion! Sandy
Albert Einstein said: "Many of the things you can count, don't count. Many of the things you can't count, really count!."
Location: Texas USA Posts: 6101 Joined: 2008-05-25
Thanks, Kathy. Your friend the Teacher/Psychologist sounds very warm and caring. My own concern, purely for myself and my diagnosis, is that I have the 'basic computational skills' (albeit counting on my fingers and being slower than the general public). I'm poor at remembering sequence and proceedures, and can't learn algebra. I hope that the new DSM won't eliminate my LD diagnosis. - jus'