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Case Studies

Some of the students mentioned below required a diagnostic assessment comprising of formal and informal tests to identify the underlying difficulties in mathematics, strengths and weaknesses, and possible math anxiety. Thereafter an Individual Education Plan (IEP) was been developed for a math intervention program for a short or longer duration. If the student encounters severe and persistent difficulties in math, a full assessment (test battery including IQ test and others) is needed to evaluate dyscalculia.

1) Student with Dyslexia in P1

Judy is 7 years old and was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 6. As Judy developed math difficulties in P1, the information from the test battery concerning mathematics is insufficient to develop an IEP. In order to assess all the gaps in mathematical development at age 7, a different test battery is required to assess early math skills, number sense, foundations skills in math, math concepts, reasoning skills, problem solving strategies, math vocabulary, number patterns etc. to provide the student with the necessary support. 

2) Student with Dyslexia and math difficulties in P3

Karen has been diagnosed with mild dyslexia at age 7 by a psychologist from the Dyslexia Association Singapore (DAS). Karen struggled throughout the lower Primary School with learning mathematics. A full assessment for dyscalculia was recommended to her parents.

3) Student with Dyslexia and severe math difficulties in P2

Susan has been diagnosed with dyslexia in K2. Recommendations included deferment to Primary School and seeking specialized language support. Susan is currently struggling with all subjects in school and exhibits signs of stress, anxiety and school avoidance. A full assessment was recommended.

4) Student with math anxiety, Grade 3

James is attending an International School grade 3 and parents noticed his reluctance and insecurities while learning mathematics. Feedback from the school indicated he is a quiet, friendly and well-behaved boy with a lot of friends. Parents thought the “I hate math” from a 7-year-old was a cry for help and requested advice, and a diagnostic assessment in mathematics provided more information about the underlying difficulties.

5) Student with ADHD in P3

Stephen is currently having problems with math, having failed the subject in P1 and in P2. The report from the psychologist described him as functioning in the low average range of intelligence. A paediatrician confirmed Stephen had ADHD and prescribed Ritalin to improve his problems regulating his attention. A diagnostic assessment provided detailed information about his strengths and weaknesses in the math domain, after which he enrolled in an individual math intervention.

6) Student with GDD in P1

Mark was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay (GDD) in Kindergarten 1 and received speech therapy as well as occupational therapy. Currently in P1, Mark has encountered difficulties learning mathematics as his comprehension is low and his vocabulary insufficient to understand the questions and sums in class as well as for homework and he is unable to keep up with his peers. A diagnostic assessment followed by an individual math intervention was recommended.

7) Student with Dyslexia in P5

Andy has been diagnosed with dyslexia at age 6. He then enrolled in programs conducted by the Dyslexia Association Singapore (DAS) although parents find his work is not on par with his classmates. He also has tuition for mathematics, but he still struggles to cope with the demands, resulting in frustrating behaviours and acting out. A full assessment was recommended to evaluate possible dyscalculia. 

8) Student with Dyscalculia, Sec 3

Richard has been diagnosed with dyscalculia by a psychologist in private practice. He displayed significant deficits in fluency for math facts, addition, subtraction and multiplication as well as difficulties with fractions and other mathematical operations. An individual intervention in mathematics was recommended, to improve his math skills and to learn compensation strategies among others. Noteworthy, he did not have math anxiety.

9) Student with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, Grade 9

Olivia is a student at an International School who was diagnosed with mild dyslexia by a psychologist in private practice. Olivia has struggled with mathematics for a while now and her parents have concerns, she may have dyscalculia as well and considered a full assessment.

10) Student with ADHD, ODD and CD in P4

Rick has been diagnosed by a psychologist from the MOE with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD) as well as dyslexia. Later on, a psychologist from the Child Guidance Clinic diagnosed ADHD. His school did not have the Learning Support for Mathematics (LSM) and he made only little progress during his time at the Dyslexia Association Singapore (DAS). He has consistently failed math and displayed severe math anxiety. A further assessment and intervention were recommended.

Book Reviews

This is such a handy little book! It has become a great resource for our school day and more!

Rebekah Teague

This is a clear, practical book set into sections including: number bonds, addition and subtraction, maths vocabulary, multiplication and division, rounding off, numbers till 100, ordinal numbers, place value, fractions, decimals, percentages, time, time speed and distance, length, mass and volume, area, perimeter, ratio, averages, algebra and money. It is aimed at the American schooling system, but is also relevant for the UK Primary Maths curriculum as well. Tweaks can be made in teaching the pound sign for dollar sign – which is not a big deal. Visual methods are included and shows colourful, alternative, step by step approaches and layouts for numerical concepts which may help many struggling learners, not just those with dyscalculia, dyslexia and ADHD. It is a useful “dip into” guide for both classroom teaching and individual programmes. As a “specific learning difficulties” teacher, I used it this year with some individual students with their Year 6 SATs revision. They found the book “really helpful,” they “liked the colours” and “I understand that now!”

Amazon buyer

The concepts in The Math Handbook for Students with Math Difficulties, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia or ADHD range from beginning math (basic addition) all the way up to some simple algebra concepts. In particular, the visual explanations of infrequently used concepts such as multiplying fractions or dividing decimals would be useful for high schoolers who once knew how to do the proper calculations but have forgotten. It would be valuable as a reference tool for any child who needs additional math help and would be useful for many years. Read more at website below..

Cristi Schwamb, The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, July 2017

Your book (Dyscalculia and Math Difficulties in Singapore 2014) duly arrived and I have read it. I really like its structure. The case studies, of course, give it life and reality and will reassure parents and students that they are not alone in their problems. There is a good mix of research content, with many useful references for people to follow up, and helpful, pragmatic tips. It is also good that it is targeted at Singapore (though much of the content is globally pertinent), again for parents who live in such a culture where success in maths is assumed. I wish you every, deserved, success with the book. I received your Maths Reference Book (2013) last week. I think your graphics are excellent. They are clear, uncluttered, directly related to the maths symbols and appropriate to the concept covered. You do treat the maths conceptually rather than solely by rote. This is commendable. The book is succinct, so it is not overwhelming for a hesitant learner. It will act as a quick, highly available resource for children who need their memories refreshing.

Dr Steve Chinn (UK)

This is an easy read guide to help and support for people with maths difficulties. It reminded me how much we take for granted and how we need to ensure the foundation skills are in place to be able to become more confident.

Dr Amanda Kirby (UK) on Amazon

The Math Handbook by Helmy Faber reviews many math topics at the elementary school. As a parent and Educational Psychologist, this book has helped me to understand how students make visual associations with math skills without rote repetition and memorization.

Dr. Liz Matheis on Amazon

About

Helmy Faber is a Developmental Psychologist in private practice and author of several educational books. She has over 20 years of experience working with children who have learning and/or developmental disorders, including dyscalculia, dyslexia, ADHD, and ASD. She has a special interest in dyscalculia, math difficulties and math anxiety.

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