Math Disability Linked to Problem Relating Quantities to Numerals

Children who start elementary school with difficulty associating small exact quantities of items with the printed numerals that represent those quantities are more likely to develop a math-related learning disability than are their peers, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The children in the study who appeared to have difficulty grasping the fundamental concept of exact numerical quantities — that the printed numeral 3, for example, represents three dots on a page — went on to be diagnosed with math learning disability by fifth grade.

Child with a math problem

Other early factors correlated with a math learning disability were difficulty recalling answers to single-digit addition problems, distractibility in class, and difficulty understanding that more complex math problems can be broken down into smaller problems that can be solved individually.