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This paper reviews and discusses research on arithmetical strengths and weaknesses in children with specific developmental cognitive disabilities. It focusses on children with dyslexia, developmental language disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and Williams syndrome. In general, studies show that arithmetical weaknesses are commoner in children with any of these disorders than in controls. Autism is sometimes associated with specific strengths in arithmetic; but even in autism, it is commoner for arithmetic to be a relative weakness than a relative strength. There may be some genetic reasons why there is an overlap between mathematical difficulties and other developmental learning difficulties; but much of the reason seems to be that specific aspects of arithmetic are often influenced by other factors, including language comprehension, phonological awareness, verbal and spatial working memory and long-term memory, and executive function.


Journal article


Research in Developmental Disabilities



Publication Date



Specific learning difficulties, Mathematical difficulties, Dyslexia, Developmental language disorder, Autism, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Williams syndrome, Children