Simply performing poorly in maths does not necessarily mean that a student has a specific learning disorder in this area. There are a number of reasons why an individual may find it more challenging to develop their numeracy skills, including maths related anxiety, learned helplessness resulting in a reduced level of practice, less effective mathematical instruction, memory issues, general reading delays that make it harder for them to extract the necessary information from written questions and difficulties with organisation and planning. Many individuals who struggle with mathematics due to one of these reasons often respond quickly to targeted and more intensive support.

Some students experience delays in their numeracy development for no clear reason, and often the rate with which they respond to additional support is slower than their peers. For these students it is more likely that they have a specific learning disorder with an impairment in mathematics, often referred to as Dyscalculia.

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