TouchMath Explores Importance of Early Screening and Intervention for Dyscalculia in Comprehensive Whitepaper

New academic analysis highlights the importance of early dyscalculia screening to support students and empower educators

TouchMath, a multisensory math program that makes learning critical math concepts accessible and clear for students who struggle to understand grade-level content, announces the publication of its comprehensive report, “The Transformative Potential of Early Screening for Dyscalculia, The Discounted Specific Learning Disability.”  Widely underdiagnosed, dyscalculia is a neurodevelopmental learning disorder estimated to affect 5-7% of the worldwide population. Early screening for dyscalculia and evidence-based interventions are critical to addressing the learning disorder’s short- and long-term personal and social impacts. The whitepaper, co-authored by Dr. Sandra Elliott and doctoral candidate Sam Wertheim, seeks to increase awareness and understanding of dyscalculia and promote efforts to ensure that all children have access to the support they need. 

“We know from routine screenings for hearing, vision, and dyslexia, that early identification and interventions work,” said Dr. Sandra Elliott, Chief Academic Officer at TouchMath and co-author of the whitepaper. “Most students with dyscalculia, if diagnosed at all, are not diagnosed until the third grade or later, after performing poorly on standardized tests. By this point, they are already significantly behind their peers in math and face greater challenges as students and adults. Early screening can detect the risk factors for dyscalculia and math learning problems as early as age 3, allowing for intervention and support. We have developed a screening tool and identified evidence-based interventions for educators, parents, and administrators to help each child. We urge states, districts, educators, parents, researchers, and advocates to prioritize early math screening, just as they do for vision, hearing, and dyslexia. To truly support our students as they journey through their educational careers and prepare to enter the workforce, particularly with careers tied to STEM education, we must address the fundamental skills necessary for success, which include math.”

Dyscalculia is a math learning disability that affects a person’s ability to understand and work with numbers and number related concepts and can lead to various other difficulties with mathematics, from math anxiety to math avoidance. It is not gender specific and is dramatically under-identified compared to dyslexia. In addition, up to 70% of individuals who have been identified as dyslexic are estimated to also have dyscalculia. 

The Analysis Includes Critical Key Points Driven by Research, Including:

  • Dyslexia vs. dyscalculia:  
    • In the last 20 years, there has been a push to address illiteracy through early identification with universal screeners, but the same focus has not been there for innumeracy. Even with the increased need for math skills due to technology, there have not been national campaigns to address the problem (Bryant, 2008; De Visscher, 2018; National Center for Education Statistics, 2022).
  • Importance of early identification and intervention:
    • Early identification in the years preceding 3rd grade and intervention in the specific math problem areas is effective and yields the best prognosis for students (Haberstroh & Schulte-Korne, 2019).
    • With early intervention and the right supports, including accommodations and modifications, it is very possible to adapt to being dyscalculic, demonstrate mastery of mathematics and succeed as a student and adult (Bailey et al., 2020).
  • Screening for dyscalculia: 
    • TouchMath designed the DySc screener as a free, online tool that teachers or guardians can easily administer. 
    • The DySc generates a report that includes an action plan and recommended evidence-based interventions.

“TouchMath is dedicated to increasing awareness of dyscalculia while offering accessible tools to empower every student to unlock their true potential,” stated Sean Lockwood, CEO of TouchMath. “This whitepaper bridges the gap between research and early intervention, laying the foundation for our vision where every student receives screening before starting school and is equipped for grade-level success.”

To view the whitepaper, visit this link. 

To learn more about supporting learners with dyscalculia, visit touchmath.com/dyscalculia-101.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

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Equity & Access - Issue 27

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