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I am looking for input/advice regarding whether a student I just began tutoring may have dyscalculia - and, if so, how to go about broaching the subject / assisting them as best as possible.

I'd rather not get into what cause me to become worried of this for privacy reasons, except that a student I just began tutoring in introductory university physics (calculus based) demonstrated an extremely worrying difficulty with basic mathematical reasoning, despite giving me the impression that they were otherwise quite intelligent. Whenever I presented them with a question, I felt they would answer seemingly randomly, almost as if they were picking a word or phrase I had used earlier in the hopes it was correct. In short, I have worked with others in the past who have found math quite difficult, but this felt like something else entirely.

If you have worked with students suffering from dyscalculia in the past, I would appreciate any input you have on how to possibly identify it and differentiate it from simply finding math difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ I have no expertise with dyscalculia, but I do know many students who get very stressed in 1-on-1 interactions with experts, and use the strategy you described as a defense mechanism. They have learned in the past that if they just say a word that is wrong, it makes the expert start talking again, and in their mind this is the point of the interaction, so it is a good strategy. It is possible to break students free of this strategy but only through a hard conversation. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Cunningham
    Sep 25 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ For some students, this has been their strategy all along. It may not mean dyscalculia. It may come from anxiety or ... $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    Sep 25 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ That doesn't sound like dyscalculia to me. $\endgroup$ Sep 25 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ > Whenever I presented them with a question, I felt they would answer seemingly randomly, almost as if they were picking a word or phrase I had used earlier in the hopes it was correct. Did you ask them to explain any of the seemingly random answers they were giving? $\endgroup$
    – Nick C
    Sep 27 at 14:02

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