Memory, which is where information is stored for later use, is one of many executive functions. Learning mathematics requires constant attention to memorizing the facts and the sequence of the steps, while controlling yourself and verifying the answers. This can be difficult for students with ADHD, who have difficulty concentrating and can easily lose their way or become entangled in various elements of a math problem. Dyscalculia is a learning disability in mathematics or a disorder in learning mathematics.
Children with ADHD often struggle with math. Difficulties with sustained attention, working memory (manipulating numbers in the head), and organization and planning interfere with learning and performing in mathematics. Starting at an early age, children with ADHD have difficulty memorizing mathematical data and are prone to making mistakes when solving simple math problems. As they progress through school, they may struggle with verbal problems and more complex calculations, as they lack key details or have difficulty sequencing the steps to solve the problems.
As a result, it's not uncommon for students with ADHD to score at least one year below their grade level in mathematics, even when they don't have a specific learning disorder. This can be incredibly frustrating for parents and teachers, as well as for the students themselves, especially when they know they are capable of doing better. For students with ADHD, who tend to have a slower processing speed, it can take a lot of energy to solve problems and, without a doubt, it affects their performance in solving mathematical problems. Researchers are still debating the areas of deficit and the level of severity that constitute a true mathematical disability.
Because the ADHD brain gets used to stimuli very quickly, it can be difficult to maintain attention on repetitive tasks, such as practicing math. People sometimes call it mathematical dyslexia, but this can be confusing because dyscalculia is a different condition. As someone who has had difficulty learning math and other equations, I can say that a little understanding and patience can go a long way. As mathematical tasks become more complex, the student must be able to recognize patterns and automatically remember facts and mathematical rules to quickly solve the steps of the problem.
For people with symptoms of ADHD and dyscalculia, remembering mathematical facts and simple arithmetic formulas can be a challenge. It's tempting to focus on reading and writing as the main and most important deficits of dyslexia, but remember to also evaluate and address mathematics. If your parents or siblings also have math problems related to dyscalculia, you're more likely to have them, too. Students with ADHD tend to have higher rates of disabilities in learning mathematics compared to the general student population.
Domain-specific processes solve mathematical problems using brain wiring, often referred to as a “numerical module”, located in the parietal lobe. Dyscalculia is another term for a learning disorder in which a person has great difficulty understanding arithmetic. But if they have problems with numbers or low scores on math tests, but do well in other subjects, dyscalculia could be the cause.