Experts have called for specialised teaching for children with dyscalculia

Experts have called for specialised teaching for children with dyscalculia, or "number blindness" to be made widely available in Britain.

It is the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia and just as common, affecting around 7% of the population.

In the same way that people with dyslexia cannot process words, dyscalculia sufferers find it difficult to understand and manipulate numbers.

The results from the study have been published in the journal Science.

Co-author Professor Brian Butterworth, from the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: "Dyscalculia is at least as much of a handicap for individuals as dyslexia and a very heavy burden on the state, with the estimated cost to the UK of low numeracy standing at �2.4 billion.

"Nevertheless, there are only cursory references to the disorder on the Department of Education website - no indications are offered for help either for learners, teachers or parents. It's as if the Government does not want to acknowledge its existence."

The study suggested that dyscalculia is largely a disability that children are born with, with twin and population studies indicating a major genetic component, but the genes responsible have not been identified yet.

Another review author Professor Diana Laurillard, from the Institute of Education (IoE), University of London, said: "Just because dyscalculia is inherited it does not mean that there is nothing that can be done about it.

"As with dyslexia, specialised teaching can help. At the IoE we have developed software resources specifically to help children with dyscalculia, based on brain research showing exactly what problems the brain is having."

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