Why dyscalculia and Irlen syndrome deserve the same exposure as dyslexia

By Chad_Welch

MAGINE dyslexia, but with numbers. That is what this Neath woman has to deal with every day.
Nichola Hill-Williams suffers from dyscalculia and Irlen syndrome, both of which, she says, deserve more exposure.

Such are the difficulties that come with the conditions that in the past they have inhibited her from getting jobs, affected her confidence, and even caused her reliability and trust to be called to account.
And this, she claims, is all because of lack of awareness, which is something she says needs to change to put a stop to inequality.

“People don’t understand just how much of life involves numbers,” said the 30-year-old.

“The most important thing is there’s the same level of awareness of dyscalculia and Irlen syndrome as there is of dyslexia.”

It took until university for her to be tested and diagnosed with the conditions, and she hopes that by raising awareness, others will not have to wait as long as she did.

Dyscalculia is a brain disorder that results in a severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations.
This can be to the point of being unable to perform simple addition and subtraction, time-keeping, or dealing with money.

But Ms Hill-Williams also has Irlen syndrome, which although it manifests itself with visual disturbance, it is a delay with the brain’s processing ability, which she describes as almost like watching a flick book.

Personally the dyscalculia can ever affect Ms Hill-Williams’s ability to read the figures on cooking ingredients.

“I had negative experiences in school,” she said. “I didn’t struggle in any other subjects, but there was a clear difference in maths.

“I went from the top set to the bottom — I was brought out of the class and told that I wasn’t doing well.”I remember approaching one teacher and asking if he could not read my maths results out to the class, but he did it anyway. “These are challenges that shouldn’t be happening.”

She aspired to become a teacher, having completed an English degree, but the numeracy requirements of teaching have prohibited her from achieving this.

The same goes for doctors, nurses, and other professions that rely on being able to use numbers, she added.

And with Irlen syndrome factored in, getting employed through the current recruitment channels is proving very difficult.

“Your eyes are fine, but it’s the way the brain understands what you are seeing,” she said.

“You get glare, head aches, major problems with concentration, eye strain, and extreme fatigue.
“No one knows about this — I didn’t even know that I had it — I thought everyone saw the same way that I do.”

The concentration needed for admin and filing jobs are therefore almost impossible for those with Irlen syndrome.

“They’ve both been trouble,” she said. “They’ve spoilt a lot of career opportunities for me, unfortunately.

“I have a degree, but half the time I can’t use it because I haven’t got the maths element.”
Ms Hill-Williams is calling for change in recruitment processes, to factor in these conditions, but also to get schools to test for them should a child be showing sign, as would happen with dyslexia or autism.

“They need to realise that these are serious problems,” she said.

“And employers need to review the way they recruit people with dyscalculia and Irlen syndrome.
“It’s a real shame because there’s lots of people that are intelligent, but just can’t get on with life because of the maths.

“And testing should begin the earlier the better.”

Read more: http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/dyscalculia-Irlen-syndrome-deserve-exposure/story-28505255-detail/story.html#ixzz3xAW0G0i2