Developmental dyscalculia: prevalence and prognosis

  • R. S. Shalev
  • J. Auerbach
  • O. Manor
  • V. Gross-Tsur


The prevalence of developmental dyscalculia (DC) in the school population ranges from 3–6%, a frequency similar to that of developmental dyslexia and ADHD. These studies fulfilled the criteria for an adequate prevalence study, i.e., were population based, using standardized measures to evaluate arithmetic function. Although the variation in prevalence is within a narrow range, the differences are probably due to which definition of dyscalculia was used, the age the diagnosis was made and the instrument chosen to test for DC. The relative predominance of girls with DC may reflect a greater vulnerability to environmental influences alone or in addition to a biological predisposition. DC is not only encountered as a specific learning disability but also in diverse neurological disorders, examples of which include ADHD, developmental language disorder, epilepsy, treated phenylketonuria and Fragile X syndrome. Although the long-term prognosis of DC is as yet unknown, current data indicate that DC is a stable learning disability persisting, at least for the short term, in about half of affected children. The long-term consequences of DC and its impact on education, employment and psychological well-being have yet to be determined.

Key words

Developmental dyscalculia prevalence prognosis 


  1. 1.
    Achenbach TM (1991) Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4–18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington: University of Vermont Department of PsychiatryGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth edition. Washington DC: American Psychiatric AssociationGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aram DM, Ekelman BL, Nation JE (1984) Preschoolers with language disorders: 10 years later. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 27: 232–244PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Baker L, Cantwell DP (1987) A prospective psychiatric follow-up of children with speech/language disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 26: 546–553Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Badian NA (1983) Arithmetic and nonverbal learning. In: Myklebust HR (ed) Progress in Learning Disabilities, Vol 5 (pp 235–264). New York: Grune and StrattonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Beitchman JH, Wilson B, Brownlie EB, Walters H, Inglis A, Lancee W (1996) Long-term consistency in speech/language profiles: II. Behavioral, emotional, and social outcomes. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 35: 815–825CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Beitchman JH, Young AR (1997) Learning disorders with a special emphasis on reading disorders: a review of the past 10 years. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 36: 1020–1032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Brody LE, Mills CF (1997) Gifted children with learning disabilities: a review of the issues. Journal of Learning Disabilities 30: 282–296CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Broman S, Bien E, Shaughness P (1985) Low Achieving Children: The First Seven Years (p ix) Hillsdale. New Jersey: ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cohen R (1974) Arithmetic and learning disabilities. In: Myklebust HR (ed) Progress in learning disabilities (pp 322–389). New York: Grune & StrattonGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Dehaene S, Spelke E, Pinel P, Stanescu R, Tsivkin S (1999) Sources of mathematical thinking: behavioral and brain-imaging evidence. Science 284: 970–974CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Faraone SV, Biederman J, Lehman BK, Spencer T, Norman D, Seidman LJ, Kraus I, Perrin J, Chen WJ, Tsuang MT (1993) Intellectual performance and school failure in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and in their siblings. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 102: 616–623CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Faust MW, Ashcraft MH, Fleck DE (1996) Mathematics anxiety effects in simple and complex addition. Mathematical Cognition 2: 25–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fazio BB (1996) Mathematical abilities of children with specific language impairment: a 2-year follow-up. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 39: 839–849PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Geary DC (1993) Mathematical disabilities: cognitive, neuropsychological, and genetic components. Psychological Bulletin 114: 345–362CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Geary DC (1994) Mathematical Disabilities In Children’s Mathematical Development (pp 155–187). Washington, DC: American Psychological AssociationGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ginsburg HP (1997) Mathematics learning disabilities: a view from developmental psychology. Journal of Learning Disabilities 30: 20–33CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gross-Tsur V, Manor O, Shalev RS (1993) Developmental dyscalculia, gender and the brain. Archives of Disease in Childhood 68: 510–512CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gross-Tsur V, Shalev RS, Manor O, Amir N (1995) Developmental right hemisphere syndrome: clinical spectrum of the non-verbal learning disability. Journal of Learning Disabilities 28: 80–86CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gross-Tsur V, Manor O, Shalev RS (1996) Developmental dyscalculia: prevalence and demographic features. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 38: 25–33PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gross-Tsur V, Manor O, Shalev RS (1997) Comorbidity in elementary school children with developmental language disorders. Annals Neurology (abstract) 42: 525Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hagerman RJ, Jackson C, Amiri K, Cronister Silverman A, O’Connor R, Sobesky W (1992) Girls with fragile X syndrome: physical and neurocognitive status and outcome. Pediatrics 89: 395–400PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hammill DD (1990) On defining learning disabilities: an emerging consensus. Journal of Learning Disabilities 23: 76–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Harnadek MCS, Rourke BP (1994) Principal identifying features of the syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities in children. Journal of Learning Disabilities 27: 144–154CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Häußer O (1995) Untersuchungen zur Häufigkeit von isolierten und kombinierten Rechenstörungen in einer repräsentativen Stichprobe von Schülern 3. Klassen. Dissertation thesis submitted to the Charité Medical Schoo, Humboldt-University, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hein J (1999) The specific disorder of arithmetical skills. Dissertation thesis submitted to the Charité Medical School, Humboldt-University, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Howden ME (1967) A nineteen-year follow-up of good, average and poor readers in the fifth and sixth grades. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation: University of Oregon (cited from Schonhaut and Satz, 1983)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Klauer KJ (1992) In Mathematik mehr leistungsschwache Madchen, im Lesen und Rechschreiben mehr leistungsschwache Junden? Zeitschrift f. Entwicklungspsychologie u. Padagogische Psychologie 26: 48–65Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kosc L (1974) Developmental dyscalculia. Journal of Learning Disabilities 7: 46–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lewis C, Hitch GJ, Walker P (1994) The prevalence of specific artihmetic difficulties and specific reading difficulties in 9-to 10-year old boys and girls. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 35: 283–292CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Little SS (1993) Nonverbal learning disabilities and socio-emotional functioning: a review of recent literature. Journal of Learning Disabilities 26: 652–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Miller SP, Mercer CD (1997) Educational aspects of mathematics disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities 30: 47–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Pennington BF (1991) Genetics of learning disabilities. Seminars in Neurology; 11: 28–34CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rawson M (1968) Developmental language disability: adult accomplishments of dyslexic boys. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University PressGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Reynolds CR (1984) Critical measurement issues in learning disabilities. Journal of Special Education 18: 451–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Rutter M, Tizard J, Yule W, Graham P, Whitmore K (1976) Research report: Isle of Wight studies 1964–1974. Psychological Medicine 6: 313–332CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Satz P, Talylor HG, Friel J, Flectcher JM (1978) Some developmental and predictive precursors of reading disabilities: a six year follow-up. In: Benton A, Pearl D (eds) Dyslexia: An Appraisal of Current Knowledge. New York: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Schonhaut S, Satz P (1983) Prognosis for children with learning disability: a review of follow-up studies. In: Rutter M (ed) Developmental Neuropsychology (pp 542–563), New York: Guilford PressGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Seidenberg M, Beck N, Geisser M, Giordani B, Sackellares JC, Berent S, Dreifuss FE, Boll TJ (1986) Academic achievement of children with epilepsy. Epilepsia: 27: 753–759CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Semrud-Clikeman M, Biederman J, Sprich-Buckminster S, Krifcher Lehman B, Faraone SV, Norman D (1992) Comorbidity between ADDH and learning disability: a review and report in a clinically referred sample. Journal of American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 31: 439–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Shalev RS, Auerbach J, Gross-Tsur V (1995) Developmental dyscalculia: attentional and behavioral aspects. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 36: 1261–1268CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Shalev RS, Manor O, Gross-Tsur V (1997) Neuropsychological aspects of developmental dyscalculia. Mathematical Cognition 3: 105–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Shalev RS, Manor O, Auerbach J, Gross-Tsur V (1998) Persistence of developmental dyscalculia: what counts? Results from a three year prspective follow-up study. Journal of Pediatrics 133: 358–362CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Shalev R (1998) Developmental dyscalculia. In: Perat MJ (ed) New Developments in Child Neurology (pp 635–641). Bologna: Monduzzi EditoreGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Shaywitz SE, Escobar MD, Shaywitz BA, Fletcher JM, Mackuck R (1992) Evidence that dyslexia may represent the lower tail of a normal distribution of reading ability. New England Journal of Medicine: 324: 145–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Shaywitz SE, Fletcher JM, Holahan JM, Shneider AE, Marchione KE, Stuebing KK, Francis DJ, Pugh KR, Shaywitz BA (1999) Persistence of dyslexia: the Connecticut longitudinal study at adolescence. Pediatrics 104: 1351–1359CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Temple CM, Carney RA (1993) Intellectual functioning of children with Turner syndrome: a comparison of behavioral phenotypes. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 35: 361–369Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Von Aster MG, Deloche G, Dellatolas G, Meier M (1997) Zahlenverarbeitung und Rechnen bei Schulkindern der 2. und 3. Klassenstufe: Eine vergleichende Studie franzosischsprachiger und deutschsprachiger Kinder. Zeitschrift fur Entwicklungspsychologie und Padagogische Psychologie 29: 151–166Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. S. Shalev
    • 1
  • J. Auerbach
    • 2
  • O. Manor
    • 3
  • V. Gross-Tsur
    • 1
  1. 1.Neuropediatric UnitShaare Zedek Medical CenterJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral SciencesBen-Gurion UniversityBeer ShevaIsrael
  3. 3.Braun School of Public Health & Community MedicineHebrew University-HadassahJerusalemIsrael

Personalised recommendations