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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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5.13 Math Difficulties Related to ADHD and Learning Disabilities

  • Although many students with ADHD and learning disabilities (LD) have strong mathematical aptitude, many others have significant weaknesses and struggle with math computation and problem solving. Mathematics involves multiple processes and brain functions, some of which may be areas of weakness for students with ADHD or LD.
  • Math difficulties may be because of ADHD-related weaknesses such as inattention, poor organization and planning, working memory, and self-monitoring. Others may result from a learning disability, for example, sequential processing, visual-spatial-motor, and language.
  • About 20 to 26 percent of students with ADHD have a specific math disability (Aro, 2014; DeRuvo, 2009; Mayes & Calhoun, 2006). Learning disabilities related to math are called dyscalculia.

Attention Weaknesses

Attention weaknesses may affect the following:

  • Noticing operational signs in math problems (for example, being aware that the plus sign changes to minus sign and need to switch from adding to subtracting)
  • Paying attention to other details (for example, decimal points and other symbols)
  • Checking one's work, finding errors in computation, and self-correcting
  • Losing place while working on a math problem
  • Being able to sustain the focus and mental effort necessary to complete the problems with accuracy
  • Having problems with attention resulting in numerous careless errors and inconsistent performance, even when the student is skilled ...

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