Current Biology recently published a study on the math disability, dyscalculia. Dyscalculia, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, is a term referring to a wide range of life-long learning disabilities involving math. Dyscalculia affects a person's ability to understand and manipulate numbers and may be caused by visual-spatial disability (difficulty processing what the eye sees) or language processing difficulty (difficulty processing what the ear hears). Some symptoms of the disability include inability to balance a checkbook, difficulty estimating time and/or costs, and poor sense of direction. In young children symptoms include difficulty learning to count or understanding how numbers relate to things in the world (ex. 4 dogs, 6 cats).
The researchers found, as reported by Time, the exact part of the brain that is responsible for human's sense of magnitude, or more specifically stated by Dr. Roi Cohen Kadosh of the UCL institute "...This provides strong evidence that dyscalculia is caused by malformations in the right parietal lobe..." This gives hope that someday scientists may be able to develop a diagnostic tool for diagnosing and/or treating the disorder.
In the meantime there are many things parents and teachers can do to help children with the disorder. Some ideas include explaining ideas and problems clearly, ensuring student comprehends the problem, providing a quiet place to study, allowing extra time for problem solving, encouraging the student to ask questions, encouraging visualizations, and providing multiple real life examples. As with other "invisible disabilities" it is critical to insist on in-depth evaluations to identify the issues and then write a good measurable IEP.