I have dyscalculia, so I'm wondering how most people process math ideas. I can only solve problems by memorizing what to do after being shown step-by-step how to solve similar problems. None of the concepts mesh in my mind, so I never know how to actually solve application problems, because I can't figure out which concepts to use.

How do other people learn this stuff? How intuitive is calculus? How do you know what steps to use to solve applications? How can you be sure your answer is correct? Are there any ways for someone with dyscalculia to learn the subject?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Travis Willse, Jack M, Andrew D. Hwang, Zev Chonoles, Watson May 14 '16 at 11:54

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Visual intuition plays a huge role in my personal understanding of calculus. $\endgroup$ – giobrach May 14 '16 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by visuals? $\endgroup$ – user6050977 May 14 '16 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ Physics requires you to learn certain rules, but also intuit when to use which. It's kind of like social rules, you don't talk the same to your friends as you do to your parents. You break down the problem step by step, and just see which way is the easiest to solve it. The rest is bookkeeping. $\endgroup$ – Feyre May 14 '16 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ I mean mostly thinking about what the "graphical counterpart" of an equation or symbolic statement will look like, and how changing something in the latter will affect the first $\endgroup$ – giobrach May 14 '16 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ An interesting question, but (in my view) not on-topic for Math.SE (too broad and/or opinion-based); voted to close. Important issues to think about for yourself include 1. Why do you need (or want) to be able to use calculus fluently? 2. What types of cognitive (including mathematical) and/or manual tasks (sports? model-building? computer programming?) are you good at? (In the spirit of building analogies with concepts and activities you understand well.) $\endgroup$ – Andrew D. Hwang May 14 '16 at 11:28

My heart goes out to you.

I can tell you that I never had anyone to teach me calculus. I had to study it on my own. So from this perspective I can say that at first it was hieroglyphics to me and confusing symbols. In order to understand in a textbook how an equation got from a to b, I had to simply stare at it until I realized what happened. My approach was to read all texts I could find in all nearby libraries, watch relevant youtube explanations, always try to test the concepts given on your own every step of the way and most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP! You can lean it, despite dyscalculia. You just have to keep trying. List a set of relationships you learn to reference it later. This might help when trying to figure out what approach to use in solving something. You can usually be sure your answer is correct by testing it or simply go over your result with someone who understands the material. As far as being intuitive, calculus at first is as intuitive as dropping a rock and seeing it fall upward. But, there are some graphical interpretations of the derivative and the integral that might help with understanding. If you see what is happening on the graph, it may help you understand the concept better. I wish the best of luck to you and I have faith that you will succeed and overcome.


To understand Calculus you need to have basics and what are they? They are the algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

If you understand these things really good then understanding calculus becomes easy.

As for how to get ideas to solve calculus problems?

It requires practice in Calculus.


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