Mathematics disabilities are identified through a variety of procedures. Usually the classroom teacher or parent observes that the child is having persistent difficulty learning mathematics and tends to perform poorly on classroom math assessments compared to the rest of the class. For example, the child may have trouble remembering what the teacher has taught or she may have difficulty using effective strategies to solve math problems.
By observing and working directly with a child over time, the teacher can determine if her difficulty learning mathematics is persistent. Unfortunately, mathematics disabilities are usually not identified until the upper elementary school years because early problems often go undetected and assessment results may not be sensitive enough to detect a problem until the later grades.
Information about the child's performance can be gathered in several ways. Weekly tests, homework, and class work samples are examples of information the teacher can collect about the child's progress learning the mathematics curriculum. The teacher may adapt how instruction is provided to accommodate a child's learning needs and then note how the child responds to those adaptations.
The teacher may also seek assistance from a specialist or school support team who can offer additional ideas about how to adapt instruction for the child who is struggling to learn the curriculum. The teacher may also consult with the child's parents to understand how the child is doing on math homework. All of this information helps the teacher and school support team develop a profile of the child's learning difficulties and her response to instruction and adaptations.