As many as 2 million children are believed to be affected by maths anxiety, so why is it still so poorly understood?
Flora Brian, whose maths anxiety was not easily diagnosed. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
My daughter Flora was just six when she announced that she didn't understand a thing in maths lessons at school. We raised it at the next parents' evening and were reassured that her maths was fine, but we began to notice that she sometimes made wildly illogical guesses when attempting basic addition and was easily confused by anything numerical. She was also getting upset about maths at school, but the more her teachers tried to reassure us that she was doing well, the more Flora insisted she didn't let them see that she spent maths lessons copying other children.
It wasn't until she moved to a new school two years later that her difficulties were identified, revealing such a vast gulf between her attainment in numeracy and in literacy that we suspected she could have dyscalculia, a kind of dyslexia with numbers. We took her to a specialist, who made it clear that although Flora wasn't dyscalculic, her maths was very poor. She advised that Flora shouldn't be taught maths in a normal class. In despair, we turned to an educational psychologist, and discovered that Flora's problems weren't down to ability, but to anxiety