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How does having Dyscalculia impact becoming an engineer
#1 Print Post
Posted on March 10 2012 07:11 PM

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Hi, I stumbled across this site when researching the importance of being successful in maths versus becoming an engineer. My 15 yr old son has both dyscalculia and dyslexia. His dream is to be an engineer (at this stage mechanical engineer) and he knows that dyslexic people make great engineers :0). However he is dealing with both conditions so I would love to hear from anyone who has achieved this goal for themselves or has some knowledge about how I can assist him in making his dream a reality. Thanks
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Posted on March 11 2012 03:08 PM

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welcome, here to both you and your son, jrd!
I have math LD <dyscalculia - I'm in States> , though not dyslexia.
For me based on my struggles anything math-related as a career wouldn't work. But that's me.

Maybe if you give us an idea where you are, maybe there'll be someone on our helpful forum who could give you some ideas pertinent to your locationSmile
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Posted on March 11 2012 05:51 PM
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Generally a degree in engineering requires a lot of really math-intensive courses. Calculus, Diff Eq, Physics, etc. If your son struggles in math then he is preparing himself for an extraordinary uphill battle if he's set on a degree in engineering. My partner is in an engineering major, and he had to go all the way through Calc 3 and several other math courses that I had never even heard of before. He loved it because he's great at math, but all those numbers just make my head spin.

I think the best way to assist him in making his dream a reality is to give him the absolute best, strongest math foundation possible. Math builds on itself, and if you don't know the basics then you will never be able to build up from there and have a solid working knowledge of math. Make sure that he doesn't just pass his math classes, but that he understands them, that he really shows mastery of the concepts. Emphasize to him how important that is if he really wants to pursue engineering in the future, because it will be so math heavy. Get him tutors if he needs them, to ensure the highest degree of success possible for him.

I think it's great that you want to support your son and help him reach his dreams. You're clearly a really awesome, dedicated parent and I just wanted to thank you for being that for your son. Smile Many of us here wish we'd had parents who were nearly as supportive of our learning disabilities!
"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." - Eric Hoffer
#4 Print Post
Posted on March 11 2012 06:01 PM

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Hi, and thanks for your post. We are in New Zealand. Have just had assessment done for purpose of getting support through senior years at school and although dyslexia now being discussed more within NZ education system, dyscalculia...not so much. Assessment showed that while my son may struggle with working memory/processing he is superior in perceptual reasoning and I see this in his ability to think through issues by observing what he sees. He's not afraid of working hard and is hugely motivated :). It would be great to find a career (preferably in Engineering) he can aim for which incorporates what he wants to do with the skills he has.
Oh...I have found formal maths tutoring for him this year; maybe that will help B)
Edited by jrd on March 11 2012 06:04 PM
#5 Print Post
Posted on March 12 2012 12:47 PM

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Hi there,

My 12yo DS has dyscalculia/dyslexia/dysgraphia and tests gifted. DH and I are both EEs.

I'm going to recommend that you read the book "The Dyslexic Advantage" because the back of the book addresses college and the strategies that should be in place before college begins. Your son will need to select his school carefully as not all Universities are helpful.

In my view, an ME is the easiest degree to get. As a neurotypical individual, my only difficulty with engineering coursework was the pacing. Math classes went very fast and covered several things at once. This could be extremely challenging with a full class load (14-16hrs) combined with working a part time job. Your son should be prepared to take more than the typical 4 years of schooling, and he should be supported financially if at all possible..

You haven't mentioned how much math he has taken or how well he's doing. The mandatory coursework such as chemistry seems to be a problem for many. Has he seen any physics or done vector math and calculus? He needs exposure to these subjects and should be fluent with algebra and trigonometry.
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Posted on March 12 2012 04:56 PM
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I have the severe form of the time distortion of dyscalculia, my trade off is that i can do maths.. but i need the formulas in front of me as part of my form of dyscalulia is that i cannot hold numbers and abstract forms in my mind, especially while working through other problems or thoughts.. i jumble words letters and formulas up.
But this pales in comparison to my inability to desern time. I have no ability to conceive time.. in it's form or passage. I cannot tell how much time has passed between events or even while i am standing or sitting around doing something. I don't know what time of day it is, what month or even what year it is.. for this i must always check my phone.. *thank jobs for the Iphone*

And with this major disadvantage i took and passed.. an advanced immersion program of 3D computer animation and visual effects artist at a prestigious private school. *this is a school where if u miss 3 classes a semester or your marks fall below 70% you are dismissed from the school*
It was hard... damn hard. But not impossible as everyone would have me believe. As a dyscalculic you have to work and try SSSOOO much harder than everyone else. You have to know yourself well and have very good coping strategies in place. If you want to do it.. do it.

What determines the way in which anyone does anything is personal power.


Hope this helps. Wink

You May not Live, But you will Die.
#7 Print Post
Posted on March 12 2012 06:28 PM
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I have a lot of direct experience with this, as I took 60 credits in mech e. at a school up in Delaware before I moved. I've also had the opportunity to talk to other people, here on this forum and elsewhere, who have dyscalculia and gone into science and engineering fields.

I'm going to echo Heathermonster's last point:

He needs to not just know, but breathe algebra and trigonometry by the time he gets to freshman year. He needs to be so good at algebra and trigonometry that he can pass those classes with better marks than the average student. Because he can't memorize, he has to understand. Unfortunately, understanding is not taught for algebra and trig until the upper undergraduate level of a pure mathematics degree. He has to go seek it on his own.

There is no way around this for someone with any form of dyscalculia that I have seen.

My experience has been this:

I have to spend the most time on the stupidest things. Arithmetic, and extremely low level math. The ideas in upper level math become almost concrete, especially to persons with exceptional reasoning skills. The work he has to put in now to figure out how to make algebra and trigonometry reflexive and intuitive will pay off later, when he doesn't have to put in as much work as other classmates because the ideas being presented will be intuitive to him.
#8 Print Post
Posted on March 13 2012 06:19 AM

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Thanks so much to everyone for your interest and great comments. What you say about really needing to consolidate the fundamentals in maths makes sense and that is what I hope the tutoring will assist him with. I am making it a priority to continue this during the next two years at least (the most important here in NZ, prior to tertiary studies). If hard work is what it takes his attitude is definitely in the right place. I shared with him about what some of you have achieved despite barriers. It is great inspiration for him, thanks again
#9 Print Post
Posted on March 13 2012 07:05 AM

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EarlyWarning wrote:What determines the way in which anyone does anything is personal power.
Thank you for that. With your permission, I think I'd like that as my new siggy line. Smile
Algebra? When I learn decimals and fractions, you're welcome to try teaching me, but unless you have the patience of a saint and are very long-lived, good luck with that... Grin
#10 Print Post
Posted on March 13 2012 08:55 AM
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Hi JRD, good to see a Kiwi here,

You wrote that you have just had the assessment, where the report needs to be looked at more closely, to understand his maths difficulties. As you wrote that he is superior in perceptual reasoning. But Dyscalculia is a result of perceptual reasoning difficulties.
So that your son has another issue causing his maths difficulties?
Which would no doubt be related to his Dyslexia.
Where I would speculate that he has a difficulty with auditory processing? That is the common issue.
It is important to clearly understand what is causing him difficulty with maths, as each requires a different approach.
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Posted on March 13 2012 05:19 PM
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Ladyhawke wrote:
EarlyWarning wrote:What determines the way in which anyone does anything is personal power.
Thank you for that. With your permission, I think I'd like that as my new siggy line. Smile

Run with it. Wink
You May not Live, But you will Die.
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