5 Things Your Grade-Schooler With Dyscalculia Can Say to Self-Advocate

By Amanda Morin

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16Found this helpful

It’s important for grade-schoolers with dyscalculia to start learning self-advocacy skills. But it can be hard for them to know what to say and when to say it. Here are some ideas you can use to help your child practice speaking up for what he needs.

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“Can you show me again?”

The situation: The teacher shows the students how to draw circles to represent the sets of numbers in an addition problem. But your child doesn’t understand how to do it during independent work time.

Your child can go up to the teacher and say: “Can I talk to you about how I’m supposed to draw these groups? I need to see it again.”

Your child can later say to you: “I can do my math work, but I don’t always get it the first time around. Is there some way I can get some extra help?”

2 of 5

“It’s part of my individual learning plan.”

The situation: A substitute teacher doesn’t realize your child uses a number line to help him remember how to write the numbers. The substitute tells your child to put it away during math class.

Your child can go up to the substitute and say: “Using the number line is part of my learning plan. I have a math learning disability and the number line helps.”

Your child can talk to the regular teacher later and say: “The substitute didn’t know that I use the number line and I felt bad speaking up. Can you help make sure it doesn’t happen again?”

3 of 5

“Can you highlight the clue words?”

The situation: Your child’s homework was to do word problems. He got them all wrong because he couldn’t recognize the clue words (such as “less than” meaning subtraction or “more than” meaning addition).

Your child can say to the teacher: “Can you highlight the clue words on my homework? And can we go over what they mean? I can set up the problems right if I know which words go with which operation.”

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“Can you help me know when I’m running out of time?”

Situation: Your child’s dyscalculia makes it tough for him to figure out amounts of things—including amounts of time. He has trouble reading the clock and can’t always gauge how long he’s been working. So he often runs out of time before he’s done.

Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “I have trouble knowing how much time I have left to finish my work. Can you let me know a few minutes before the time is up?”

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“Can I use graph paper?”

Situation: Your child fails his math test because he has trouble following and lining up the numbers in the problems.

Your child can talk to the teacher after class and say: “I know how to get the answers, but it’s hard for me to follow them or get them in the right columns. Can I use graph paper to keep them all in the right boxes?”

Your child can say to you or the IEP team: “I need help keeping numbers in the right column. Could we write in my IEP that I can use graph paper?”

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About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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Portrait of Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin, Ph.D., was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.

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