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How can I help my child who has a physical or learning disability?

There are many ideas in this FAQ that will help teachers think about techniques and methods for working with students with disabilities, but the resources on this page are mainly for the many parents who write looking for ideas about helping their children succeed in math classes.

When children begin struggling with mathematics, it's important for the teacher and parents to talk about what is happening. Is there a learning disability that is interfering with learning? Does the child have a learning style that requires different instruction than is usually provided in the classroom? Are there modifications that can be made at school or at home to accomodate the student's special needs? There are no easy answers to these questions because every learner faces a different situation depending on his or her own learning needs and the learning environment.

The discussions on this page deal with many issues involving school performance and the need for individualized instruction or attention. The Web Resources link to many organizations that can help parents figure out ways to work with school personnel while providing expertise in dealing with particular disabilities. If you are familiar with other resources that belong on this page, please use the link at the bottom of the page to tell us about them.


T2T discussions about disabilities:

Difficulty learning math
My 11-year-old son has Attention Deficit Disorder. His neuro-developmental evaluation revealed "deficits in comprehension, temporal-sequential organization, visual attention and visual active working memory, as well as left to right discrimination." Put simply, this child cannot do math. ...view discussion>>

Large key calculator for algebra
A high school teacher has asked me to locate a large key calculator for a student with a disability who has difficulty accessing the small calculator keys without frequent mis-hits....view discussion>>

Math anxiety
My 7th grade daughter just doesn't seem to be grasping math at all. We have tried everything. Does this sound like she has a learning disability that no one has detected yet?...view discussion>>

Maths for Down Syndrome child
I have a three-year-old son with Down Syndrome. I don't know how to teach him maths. Can you help me? ...view discussion>>

Math for dyslexia
I was wondering if there are any math curriculums you would recommend for children with dyslexia. My son has always struggled with math. He seems to be able to grasp more difficult concepts (he "sees" math, rather than memorizes it), but has trouble with the more basic things. ...view discussion>>

Math Solving
Sometimes I wonder if my son is having a phobia for math examinations because he seems to be unable to do even a simple sum during his examination, or was it due to time management? ...view discussion>>

Student with "careless" mistakes
We are at a point now where he is understanding the material with extra help from his teacher and me, but he still loses so many points due to "careless" mistakes. Is there anything a tutor can do to help a student with this type of mistake? It's not just on tests; he makes the errors on homework, and as I watch him work as well. ...view discussion>>

Teaching basic math
My son is not one that can do speed. He knows his facts he is just slow. We are only on addition and I am afraid with the other subjects coming up in math he will fall way behind. ...view discussion>>

Teaching learning disabled children
I cannot find any information on teaching math to learning disabled children. I need help with real world applications or some other real easy lessons. Can anyone show me a web site for teachers teaching LD children math, fractions or any other things? I need a response as soon as possible....view discussion>>


Ask Dr. Math resources:

Finger Multiplication
Do you know a method for teaching blind children "finger math"?

Help in Studying for Math
I was wondering if you had any suggestions or comments that might help me out a little bit.

Struggling with Math
My 8th grader has had math problems since she began school. She goes to regular classes for everything else but in math she has been going to special ed. I am very concerned about her feeling like a failure when she takes the classes with her classmates. I am also a student right now and can not afford tutoring classes for her. What should I do? How can I help her?


Books for reference: The following books are available through

Books listed under the category Autism & Asperger's Syndrome

Books listed under the category Down Syndrome

Books listed under the category Learning Disorders

Books listed under the category Special Needs Children


Resources on the Web:

American Foundation for the Blind
This site is dedicated to addressing the most critical issues facing the blind population: independent living, literacy, employment, and technology.

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
An independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization of attorneys, advocates and parents established to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance for parents of children with disabilities.

Including Your Child
A guide to resources, especially educational, for families of children with special needs.

This is a web site on learning disabilities for parents, teachers, and other professionals.

National Association of the Deaf (NDSS)
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), established in 1880, is the oldest and largest constituency organization safeguarding the accessibility and civil rights of 28 million deaf and hard of hearing Americans in education, employment, health care, and telecommunications.

National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)
This is a web site for resources and information on Down syndrome.

The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
The Special Ed Advocate is a free online newsletter. Each issue includes information about special ed law, new decisions, research, internet links, and other special education topics.

Special Education Services for Children - The Law
The rules or guidelines for special education in the United States and its territories are outlined.

Strategies for Teaching Math to Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students
Resources for students and teachers prepared by four Deaf Education Majors at The College of New Jersey.

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